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Mystery shopper scam strikes again

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picture of shopping bagsIt sounds pretty good: you walk into a store like any other customer. Then 20 minutes later, you’re done, ready to write a report that will earn you $50. And then you can do it again.

If Shopper Systems and some companies like it were to be believed, mystery shopping jobs like this were not only widely available, but could generate “insane profit.” All for just $2.95 for training and a week’s trial, then $49.95 a month after that for an up-to-date list of interested retailers — and you’d be free to cancel any time.

But they couldn’t be believed, the FTC says. According to the FTC’s complaint, people who paid to be mystery shoppers found there were few, if any, jobs in their area. And the jobs that did exist paid a lot less than $50. People who tried to cancel found they were still charged $49.95 a month, not knowing they were also enrolled in a second “opportunity” running their own webstore.

The companies and people behind the alleged scam have agreed to settlements with the FTC that ban them from selling business or work-at-home opportunities and require them to surrender assets to the FTC.

Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities are out there, but so are plenty of scams. Don’t pay to be a mystery shopper — information about mystery shopping jobs should be free, and certifications offered are often of little value. Many professionals in the field consider mystery shopping a part-time activity, at best, and opportunities generally are posted online by marketing research or merchandising companies.

Want to learn more about these kinds of scams and get tips on finding legitimate mystery shopping jobs? Read Mystery Shopper Scams at ftc.gov/bizopps.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

I responded to a mystery shopper email that was sent to me for extra income i was told not to use any of my money for these assignments the money will be sent to me including my fee for the week. Well i received a check for 2450 300 of it is supposedly my pay and the rest i had to purchase itunes gift cards in denominations of $50 or $100 dollars i cant tell the cashier that i'm customer service but i had to scratch the card and send the pin number via email to the company once the assignmemt was done. they also instructed me upon receiving the check how to cash it which is through a check cashing place, mobile banking, atm deposit or go into my bank and give them the check but i have to rate the cashier and these were the questions i had to ask....the name, how long will it take the check to cash, cleanliness, friendly etc etc.....i felt a strange feeling in my stomach so i looked up the routing number its legit but what type of place send that kind of money without the job being done?

That sounds like a scam. If they sent you a bad check and you deposit it, then take cash out and send it to them, you will have to repay the bank when the bank finds out the check was bad.

A fake check might look legitimate, and the bank might cash it, but that doesn't prove the check is good. By law, the bank has to give you some of the money within a few days, but that doesn't mean the check is legitimate. It can take days, even weeks for a bank to find out a check is bad. When the bank finds out, it will come to you to repay all the money you took out.

I Just got scammed by this company, and didn't see it coming...THE SAME DAY!!!...this guy asked me to confirm my name and address so he could get me working, and withing hours, was in my paypal, adding funds, and buying prepaid gift cards ...they are fixing it. Returning all them money put on to him, and all the gift cards, but what a hassle....I was planning on reporting him to the federal trade commission...I didn't expect this!!

Hello,

We received your application for the Data Entry Position. Congratulation we have accepted your request to work for us at Data Plus Service. My name is Debora Smith, I am the hiring manager for Data Plus Service. This is a home-base working position and it is very flexible. Working with us is basically about following given instructions. your activities among other things will include;

>>> Filing, Creating, typing and sending out letters, scanning documents, some personal assistant duties for owners, and many other
>>> Managing few expenses and invoices

You only have to work 3days/week and 2hours/day.The pay is $50/hr which is approximately $300 weekly!!

It's a part-time work from home for now and Working with us is flexible which means you have chances of applying for an extra part-time job. We have an assignment for you in your area, we have a pending errand we need you to run this week/next week around your area. This errand will involve payment of some basic data materials and typing of payment invoice accordingly. We will have some funds sent to you to complete the errands and would get back to you with more information on that, payment will be sent to your information below. Kindly confirm your information below is correct.

Full Name Eric
Street Address 317 Adams SE, 107
City, State and Zip 317 Adams SE, 107
Phone Number 505-433-2883

Funds will include your first week payment and funds for errands you will run for us in your area ..

Thanks in anticipation of your prompt response. Ensure you respond to this message once you receive it. We await your swift response

Yours Sincerely,

Debora Smith

i just received a cashiers check for $2,890.00 from People State Bank in Newton IL 62448

Well lets just say I called before i did anything and turns out its a scam once again these people are should know by know that we know about them... but they still keep it up... its sad because normally i wouldve never given a thought i would've just put it in my bank but once i seen that it came from Canada than it said their office was in New York and i googled the address and it came back as a building that was no long in use i called the bank and asked the bank manager if it was real

so please be smart and google please Global Survey USA 8017 4Th Avenue, Suite 107B New York New York 10022 Number they Gave me 1-800-210-5952 Dan Strauss big fail thanks

What was the email they used?

Received a letter & check in the mail for $%1998.55 to be a mystery shopper from goshoppinggroup. com. Told me to deposit the check, $350 is mine, see assignment #1 for Amount for Evaluation & #2 for Required Funds for retail shopping assignment. I'm safer ripping it up & throwing it away, it sounds too good to be true.

I got a 1950 check Emailed the sender said the business was legit and had been in business since 1990. My guys name was Gerald Johnson. I'm a single mom. Could definitely use the extrac300$. Is this legit.

If someone you don't know sends you a check, it's probably a scam, and you're going to end up losing money.

A scammer might say you're going to be a mystery shopper, or use different stories. The bottom line is: you take a big risk if you cash a check from someone you don't know, or someone who found you online and offered you a job. This FTC article about fake checks has more information.  And this article tells how scammers "hire" people for jobs that can get you in legal trouble.

received a check for $1960.00 on the dec 19th. called the issuing bank (Commerce Bank) yesterday and verified it is not a legit check. Been getting texts from Alex McDonnell saying he knows it was delivered, when am I going to bank etc. Told him I moved but could pick it up, text back from same number said okay and to keep him posted. Texted the number back and said check not good, not taking it to the bank, and no reply. Then text form another number, asking if I was going to bank. I told them I checked with their bank, check no good, not cashing it. Radio Silence, surprise surprise. The issuer name on the check is ALEX J MCDONNELL, the signor in the check is JOHN A MACDONALD (doctor type signature)and name of the sender on the priority mail label is Alexander Hemming. There is one page of instructions to Mystery Shop at wal mart's Moneygram store. To buy $25 cashier's check from my bank made out to Alex McDonnell, then buy a moneygram in the amount of $1290.00 and send it to Antonio Smith via the 10 minute transfer feature and pay the $35 transfer fee. then send another 250 via the walmart to walmart feature to Antonio Smith again and purchase an iTunes gift card of $50 no mention of what to do with it. Anyway, it all seemed to be too good to be true when I opened the letter. And it is. Glad I caught this before I lost a bunch of money. Reported this scam to the Indiana Attorney General.

Isn't it wonderful that people like this make the legit companies look bad? I got an e/mail, would pay me $350.00 to be a Secret Shopper and I would receive my assignment within days after my approval. Then I start getting multiple e/mails wanting to know if I had received my assignment yet and deposit yet????? I then get this legitimate envelope in the mail with a cashier's check for $2,875.00 which I am to deposit into my account (oh by the way the instructions state that it will clear instantly or within 24 hrs.), then I am to keep $350.00 (my salary for the job), then pay $82.00 for money gram charges to send the remaining balance of $2,440.00 to a Jake Blake in Instanbul, Turkey!!!! Wow! Why do I have to cash a check (that is no good), then send a money gram to your person in Turkey? Why can't you just send that person the check or money gram them money on your own??? Well, the reason is...wait for it...it's a SCAM!!!! I called Georgia United Credit Union to confirm my gut feeling, and sure enough...it's a scam!

Oh, then at the bottom of the instruction letter, is states: "NOTE: At money grams stores, under no circumstances should you acknowledge that you are evaluating their services. That will deter the purpose of the program. If asked if you are a mystery shopper, please answer NO!" Why yes, I am not a scam artist, I want to send money to someone that I don't know in Turkey!!!

So, Mr. Jonathan Daniels (the name at the bottom of the letter of instructions), I will not cash the fake check that you have sent to me only to have it to be a way to play basketball as it will bounce since it's no good...I am sorry Mr. Blake (the person who is supposed to be the recipient), I am not sending you money since I don't want to be held liable when this thing goes south...best of luck on y'all finding some other sucker to do your scamming!!!

I just received a check in the mail for $2,875 and I would get 350 if I deposited the money into my bank account and send $2,440 to a guy named Jake Blake in Turkey. Before hand I kept getting numerous emails from smn.nfi02sx226 @   asking if I had deposited the money yet. Both banks/credit unions said they didn't have the check on file. Reported it but beware these guys are getting good at scamming, look out!

Don't cash a check from someone you don't know who its from. Take it back to the post office. I got a check for 2350.45 in mail from someone I don't even know. They started to text me on my phone,don't answer any email or phone message. Beware their are a lot of Scamers out there they just wanted your hard earning money live off of.And Mystery Shopper Scam.Real mystery shopper don't send u a check in mail.

I got one of these too! I got a check for $2960 and knew this had to be too good to be true. Who is going to pay $300 to do such a quick task and the fact that the letter said this was made out to me in "respect of the secret shopper offer I applied for" when I never applied for a secret shopper job. Too good to be true usually means it is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!

I am confused! I got the same, however I deposit the check and and my bank cleared it! So I bought the gift cards, where is the scam?

Under federal law, banks generally must make funds available to you from U.S. Treasury checks, most other government checks, cashier’s checks, certified checks, and teller’s checks one  business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, banks must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check. The remaining funds must be made available on the second business day after the deposit.

But just because funds are available on a check you deposit does not prove the check is good. It can take weeks for a bank to discover a forgery. You are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check. If you take the money now, and the bank finds out later that the check was no good, you must repay the bank all the money you withdrew.

So did u get in trouble I have a check also

so what happened with the check?? Has it still cleared???

I got a check today from CSSV Consulting for $2495 and was told to deposit it in my bank, I must had boo-boo the fool written on my birth certificate. So I called the bank and the bank exist but the bank rep she has no record of that check This was a first for me I've never received something like this before but my gut told me it was something very wrong so if you get one TRASH-IT...

What happems if you just cash the check instead of depositing it into your account?

Just received a check for $997 on American Eagle Financial Credit Union. What a fraud---hope people don't get sucked into this. 701 369 3176 is the number used by the perpetrator.

Hi there, thanks for this information. I received a check and text from someone today, claiming to be a representative of Career Builder. My initial thought: "why would Career Builder be texting me??" So I googled the number and came across your comment. I saw that your comment was posted in Feb 2017. It is not Jan 2018, and they are still using the same number. Interesting.

I've received constant messages from the same phone number (701-369-3176); however, the $998 dollar check is on Hatboro Federal Savings. The xeroxed letter that accompanied the check is to shop Walmart and Walmart2Walmart Transfer, where I am to wire funds to Abraham Vernet in Houston, Texas. At the bottom on the letter a note reads, "Remember, you're a master shopper. You are EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN to disclose this information to anyone."

My daughter received a letter and check from www.worthsendsurvey.com. A $996.00 check issued on Wal-Mart check. The letter looks legit. BUT...the name signed on the bottom is a name I recognized from getting a letter like this years ago. So these guys not only still haven't been caught, but they are confident enough to use the same name. I took the check I received ($5,000) to my bank a few years ago. I asked them about the check (which was legit check paper, but the checks were stolen) In case you are wondering what happens in these cases - they get some poor innocent or desperate soul to take their check to the bank. You take out whatever amount it is they tell you to "send to someone else" out, you send it and then boom....the check bounces. You are responsible for the charges. So if you fall for the scam and USE the money to pay bills, go shopping or whatever thinking you have had good luck, then you are going to be in BIG financial trouble with your bank and whoever else you bought stuff from. It's an old scam and it works because not everyone stops to look stuff up. The other way it works (and I don't think they do this as much anymore because it doesn't take as long for things to go through now) is that you deposit the check, then write a check and send it to someone else. After about 2 weeks their check bounces, but they cashed your check. Now you owe the money AND they have your bank information. I have a credit union and they wised up to this. It now can take 15 days for them to release funds if deposited from a company you do not normally deal with. Then if the check doesn't go through it is considered fraud. Best thing to do is take it to your bank. They will take it to their fraud department. It will be put on a hot list and you may prevent someone else from being victimized.

I received a Scam letter via Priority Mail, today, from North Texas Processing Distrib;951 W. Bethel Rd, Coppell, Tx. 75019. The letter allegedly came from Daily Merit Research, Inc and it included a check drawn from Security Service Federal Credit Union in San Antonio, Tx. for the amount of $2,625.00. Instructions in the letter were for me to deposit the check in my bank a/c and then purchase two M.O. at my local Walmart for $1100 each and pay to the order of Josh Lovewell and Bill Josh c/o the Walmart in Tomball, Tx. 77375. I was to retain $300 for myself as payment for my survey conducted at my local Walmart store. I was also supposed to make a purchase in the amount of $50 for which I was to provide details on the cashier, his/her professionalism and my personal shopping experience. The letter and survey instructions came from a Maxwell Matteson, Research Mgr. and had a ph # that I was to send a text with the store and transaction #'s for the two $1100 m.o.I had wired to the store in Tomball. I was to provide my email and they would send a confirm to me with further instructions.

After doing a google search on the name: Daily Merit Research,Inc., and seeing similar scam reports, I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and they suggested I also bring the info received to my local Post Office and file a complaint there.

Just dodged a scam...same mechanics but a bit sophisticated using social media l. I have received via my LinkedIn contact (her account was hacked) a mystery shopper opportunity. I entertained it because the LinkedIn message or recommendation was from a credible source (didn't know her account was hacked). BEWARE...this is a scam DO NOT fall for it.

I'm reporting this to the Federal Trade Commission as well as alert JP Morgan Chase of possible fake checks to protect any other from being scammed. Here's the instructions by email:

On Mar 13, 2017, at 8:34 AM, Karen Lane wrote: Greetings, Your first assignment check of $1,850.82 was posted via USPS Priority Mail. The envelope will be delivered today Monday 13th March. See below and also attached file for your assignment guideline and commission instruction. I will email you the USPS Tracking details soon. Kindly confirm receiving email with instruction by replying this email.

[ASSIGNMENT GUIDELINE] 1: Proceed to your bank or credit union to have the check deposited. Funds will be available immediately or in 24 hours. 2: Deduct $350 as your commission and logistics fee. 3: Proceed to nearest Store with iTunes Gift Cards [ Apple iTunes Non-Denominational Gift Card $15 - $500 ] (The cards are available at Rite Aid, Office Depot, Walgreens, Best buy and many other stores) 4: Purchase 3 iTunes Gift Cards at store. (See below “Samples”). Note: If the Non-Denominational Gift Card are not available, then you may purchase other denominations. 5: Go to the register and add cash of $500 to each card. $500 X 3 = $1500 6: Evaluate the quality of customer service delivery, condition and arrangement of cards at the store and fill out your observation in the Feedback Section below (Page 2). Note: Under no circumstance should you acknowledge that you are evaluating their services as that will deter the purpose of the program. If asked if you are a mystery shopper, kindly answer NO.

AFTER PURCHASE OF CARDS 7: Open the pack, scratch off label to reveal code at the back of the cards and capture clear image of front and back of each card and email to us along with Page 2 of this document. (Phone camera accepted) The cards are required for the next assignment. You will also use the funds to carry out future assignments. This eliminates the need of posting you checks for other upcoming assignments. Note: Do not use the cards until we instruct you to do so. FEEDBACK FORM YOUR NAME STORE NAME AND ADDRESS DATE AND TIME OF VISIT Comments: Three (3) things that could be improved in this store (Services). 1     2     3     4. How long did it take to purchase the cards?  Thank you for your services. Market Research Opinions

guys this just happened to me and i fell for it because it seemed so real! please tell me what to do! i just now found all of this information and its to late for me to do anything.

Me too it just happened Idk what to do this has never happened to me before.... fid you get it resolved

Got scammed in March 2017. Was distracted and receiving numerous legitimate checks so deposited.
Obviously, you need to notify FBI, FTC, USPO etc because it is a multiplatform fraud.
IMPORTANT:
SAVE THE ENVELOPE AND CHECK THE
"Send From" number code. [first five digets]
Mine appears to have originated on a Military Base involved in National Security Communications Interception.
If yours originated on Military Base PO too, Immediately inform your Senator to get the Military to investigate ALL the identities you have and provide the week/day you received envelope ... it there is a tracking number provide that too.
This scam appears to involve military personnel at all levels. It might be funding something ...

question re the secret shopper scam:
I have this check for 2,670.18. What happens if I just deposit the check and then do nothing?

If someone you don't know sends you a check, it's probably a scam, and you're going to end up losing money.

A scammer might say you're going to be a mystery shopper, or use different stories. The bottom line is: you take a big risk if you cash a check from someone you don't know, or someone who found you online and offered you a job. This FTC article about fake checks has more information.  And this article tells how scammers "hire" people for jobs that can get you in legal trouble.

I received a check a few years ago from a wheel dealer in CA for 9500 dollars. I had inquired about becoming a dealer so my first thought was maybe it was some kind of store only credit. I deposited the check in my Wells Fargo savings account and just let it sit. One week later the full amount was available in my account. I never touched one penny in that account, I just left it all there. Two weeks later my debit card was shut off and all three of my accounts were closed. I got a letter stating that I was involved in a money laundering scheme and that they, the bank would send me cashiers checks for the balances in each of my accounts after two weeks had passed. My advice is do not cash that check.

I got a letter and a check today. They want me to be a secret shopper at Wal-Mart. I did not sign up for this. I am disabled and bedfast. Where can I return this to? There is no return address.

You can give the letter to your mail carrier, or you can destroy it.

By priority mail I received instructions on how to do a WALMART store survey and a check for $ 2250$ 1840 I was instructed to send to HUNG NGUYEN COLUMBIA HEIGHTS MN 55421 BY WESTERN UNION.

I WAITED for my bank to confirm the check was legit and after the bank approved it they credited it to my account after a day the survey was accepted and the money sent to Nguyen 4 days later the bank says the check is bad phone calls and Emails to Robert Miller were not returned.My bank thinks this has all the signs of a classic Mistery shopper scam

I received similar situation and I believe accordingly to law that this is mail fraud. If I am correct this is a federal offense and is punishable by law. Proper authorities should take this more seriously and pursue these actions, or are we citizens allowing criminal actions to continue?

7/21/17 Received a text stating I've been accepted as a Mystery Shopper, please respond. I did not. Next received a letter dated 7/14/2017 with a $2530.10 check enclosed for my expenses. I will get $350 per survey! Obviously I did NOT respond at all and tore up the check!!

August 25, 2017, received 2 of the same type of offers by priority mail from different sending address that were dated the 18th. I haven't cashed either of them fortunately because of being very skeptical. I didn't have time to research until tonight.

One was for $1440 and the other for $2440. One said it would tell me where to shop by email (An e-mail of which I never got, I'm assuming it went to spam) and the other gave instructions to send $1007 dollars to a man named John Hinton in California.

I was and am very skeptical because there were a total of 4 names mentioned on the priority mail and the letters, so no unity of dealing with one recruiter like I am used to experiencing (I actually am a secret shopper.) and the amounts were outrageously high for secret shopping.

There are some legitimate secret shopper services out there, however these that are paying such amounts for shopping for $50 at Walmart are all scams. They are just money laundering scams and any money you withdraw from the check they send you, you are responsible for because they get the cash and the bank does not

On Monday I will be taking this to my local police as well as submitting a report online as was mentioned on page 1 of this internet article.

Unfortunately, I doubt they will be caught because there are so many of these criminal scammers out there. It's not just 1 or 2 people, it's a whole ring of people from what I've read and they have yet to be caught.

Woulda been nice.

I have 2 cashiers checks here in front of me. First check is for $3950.00 and the bank is out of Denver CO and purchased by Laura Burton. The second check is for $975.00 and bank is in Harper Heights TX oh and it's a Navy Federal Credit Union (really? Lol) also purchased by...guess who Laure Burton. In the letters that came with the checks pretty much say the same thing
1...Amount received is $975
2...Your salary is. $150
3...Amount to be sent out is $750
4...Money-Gram charges $75
I really wish I could post these letters on here to all see.

Be safe out there guys and dolls. This is crazy! Man I'd love t cash the check but shoot, I can't.

This is ridiculous my husband just got a check from Lowel Bobby Lenox Square 3393 Peachtree Rd NE Atlanta GA 30326 this is an address to a mall location no suite or shop number included. The check was in the amount of $2,750.00 the routing number wasn't listed in the appropriate place based on information from the Horizon Bank where it was drawn supposedly. On the left they had the check number in the middle they had the actual routing number for horizon bank then another set of numbers. My husband had answered an advertisement for www. multishopperspro. com to be a mistery shopper the IP address 23.95.216.200 traces back to Romania. This is a total scam. It said to put the check in our bank account keep $300 as his commission, go buy $100 iTunes gift card at Walmart, then go to another Walmart location and wire $1,150.00 to Oliver Wilson 15820 Reddy Ln Houston Tx 77053, then go to another Walmart and wire $1,150.00 to Daniel Jackson 7312 Log Cradle Dr. Houston TX 77041.
People now days just want to steal from honest hard working people. Don't let it happen to you.

got a check for 2950.00 was to send money transfer to someone in North Carolina just wondering if this is fraud

Hi, I also received a check for a mystery shopper assignment & I would like to know where I can forward my information to authorities to take care of these creeps that prey on innocent people.

You can help law enforcement by reporting this to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations. The comments you put here on the blog don’t go into the law enforcement databases.

Dodgy connection in LinkedIn, then messages via email and text. Finally, they sent a check. I'm not falling for this.
The email had a gmail address, and typos. Even the name of the contact, Brian Stalder, was written differently in various pieces. Flagrant!!

I received a similar application that was catering to the visually and cognitive disabled communities, to become secret shoppers and see how the employees at your assignment treat you.

I received a check for 2,500 dollars and was told to go the local post office and purchase 3 850 dollar money orders and 5 books of stamps.

I researched the companies that were associated with this and also looked at the name of the person on linkedin and some things did't measure up.

I am going to file this with FTC and would like to know where I should file considering it may be scamming the USPS.

Just be aware , this company is targeting these certain groups. I don't think a company is suppose to ask you if you are blind.

Just received 2 checks tearing it up. Dont have time to waste if nothing will be done. 1 check from Cache Valley Bank in Utah and the other from ProFed Credit Union for $1982 each asking me to deposit and then send via Moneygram to different addresses in Tx.
Also have a name Bruce Johnson to email at bruced9012 @ gmail.com when i deposit or text him at 832 569 1219 after i am done. Please beware.

Sadly, I fell for this and lost $730.00. I'm embarrassed, ashamed and pissed! Right here at Christmas. I hope ALL of these perpetrators rot in hell. Don't fall for it. I just wish I'd known about this site, because my situation is very similar. I've decided not to do anything about it since, it seems, no action is taken to find the scammers. C'est la vie.

What if you dont have a bank account and you just try to cash it

I just received a check today from Taff Management Corp for a nike/walmart evaluation...SCAM!!! The check raised my suspicion as it was $2150.50. Sad that people try to get over on other people like this.

I got this letter went to deposit a 2,250 dollar check to my bank lucky the said 6 day to find out if check fake or real after that i contact david pawlowski to let him know they got to check check and he ask could i go to walmart to do money wire to two people name pamela holmes and takeisha carruth address 2124 15th av city columbus state Ga zip 31901and 14th ave city paterson state nj zip 07504 please beware it a letter that says walmart2walmart moneygram international the #1 employer of mystery shopper and commission 300

I just got a check for $2,900.00 for cset what should i do with it? Got it today.

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