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Mystery shop ’til you drop? Not so fast

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Who wouldn’t love getting paid to shop and dine at cool places and then review them? Whether you’re a student looking for a summer job or someone wanting to start a side or full-time business, mystery shopping sounds like an exciting option. But while some mystery shopping opportunities are legitimate, many are scams that rob you, not pay you.

Here are a few ways to spot and avoid mystery shopping scams:

  • Search the company with the words “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”
  • Remember: Honest companies pay you to work for them, not charge you. If the company asks you to pay upfront to get the opportunity, walk away. No real job opportunity, including mystery shopping, involves paying for the job.
  • Don’t pay companies for “certifications,” directories or job “guarantees,” all of which are usually worthless. Companies asking you to pay for such things are likely scammers.
  • If you’re asked to deposit checks into your bank account and send money back to pay for courses, fees or anything else, stop. This is a fake check scam. When the check bounces, you’ll be out of the money you sent and may have to pay more to the bank.
  • Never wire money or buy gift cards for a mystery shopping assignment or any job opportunity. Those are sure signs of a scam.

If you’re looking for legitimate mystery shopping jobs, check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association for a database of authentic companies. But if you spot any scams, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and your state attorney general’s office.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money
Scam Tags:  Job Scams

Comments

Where do we report these companies too???

Report to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

I’m a victim of secret shopper I was sent a check in priority mail they sent me a text how did they get my contacts number I don’t know.im not doing anything with that check. I’m not depositing that check I don’t have and account any more and if I did I’m not going to jail for these people.

Got this Secret Shopper “opportunity” from my college career website. It directed me to CareerBuilder. In which I happily applied to be a secret shopper. How hard could it be? I soon got a text message that my first assignment was on its way. Upon opening the envelope from some guy from Texas there was a check for almost $3000! With directions to buy two gift cards for $1300 from the local Apple store. And then text the provided cell number for further directions. Hmmm.... if I am a secret shopper why do I have to buy gift cards?! Needless to say I voided the check and sent it back. And I will be notifying my college of the scam.

Hi - I received one of these checks my e-mail and deposited it. When I talk to my bank, they say that it is completely cleared and the check is legit and now I have $2000 in my account that neither belongs to me nor I want anything to do with it. The name of the surveyor company is GLOVIS SUNRISE SURVEY SERVICES. I have no idea what to do with this money - it is definitely a scam but what if the checks actually got cleared. Can someone let me know the best way to go forward with this??

I talked to my bank to my bank today. I didn't deposit it yet, but was told that they can put a 10day hold on it, see if it clears. If it does supposedly i wouldn be ok. But, it's the same deal. Buy 2 gift cards frm to of the same local chain stores, keep 300 for survey plus 50$ gor transport. It took 3weeks for me to be 'approved'. The letter said these stores in my area were getting complaints. Lmk what u do. I mean if it clears & i let it sit there for a month, wouldnt it be safe. I could use the $.

I got the same letter. Did the check clear?

I'm just curious how this worked out. Did you have to pay the money back or what?

received a check in the mail from a person claiming to be Deborah Yates. She sent me a check from Stripes in Waco Texas. I called the bank the cashier check was made out from everything was correct except for the check number.
Yates told me is ok you just keep 350 buy gift cards from Walmart and I will give you an address were to mail them. I said why can't I mail them back to the address on the envelope, the person sent me back text after text. I then told them I called the bank I knew it was a scam all communication stopped immediately.

I think I have been scammed. I feel so stupid. What do I do now?

I received an email and a letter in the mail today from a company congratulating me for being their newest mystery shopper, ironically in the same day. They sent me an "official check" with a letter that instructed me to buy four $500 gift cards from Best Buy, then to scratch off the silver strip from the back of the cards, and to email it to one, specific email address on the letter. The first thing I noticed was the return to sender address was from Placerville, CA, but it was mailed from San Jose, CA (2 hours apart). The next thing I noticed was a typo in the letter that said, "Be sure you have the TIGHT (instead of "right") gift cards, which is unprofessional. Also, the name at the bottom of the letter was from someone with the last name of "Desir" (like "the sir"), and the email I received was from the same gentleman with a different last name and job title. Do not fall for this, folks! There are too many red flags! If you send them the photos of the codes beneath the silver strips of the gift card, they can still use that online to purchase things without having the gift cards themselves. Another thing to note is that they said, "You will be using the purchased cards to shop at the same store during your next task." If they have spent the money on the cards, you won't be able to use them anyway. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. I reported these people to the FTC and my AG.

I just got an invitation to RLSinc Walmart mystery shopper via text msg!
Is this Legit?
Walmart in need of Shoppers to spot Operational Flaws, selected Shoppers to earn $400 weekly. To Learn & Apply visit pmacrptoaudit.org on your browser and download Application form and follow instructions

Most likely no cause I almost fell for that same thing

After getting several text messages, I received a check in the mail today for a whopping $2,450.52. Thank goodness I'm smart enough to know this is a SCAM. Beware of anything like this. Don't fall for it. I'm going to call the sheriff's office and report this so others will know not to fall for this SCAM.

I just received a $2500.00 check to purchase gift cards at walmart,walgreens,CVs and other stores. Who do I report this to and what do I do with the check I called the telephone number on the information and it is not in order.

I received several text messages and just received a check for $998 from Shoppers Place asking me to deposit the check and go buy E-Bay gift cards and send them images but to keep the cards for future assignments and to get a $5 cashier check made out to the Red Cross to cover their “SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY “ . I replied to every text that I know full well they are a scam and the check will
not be real or it will be stolen but they sent it anyway... what are these people thinking anyway????

I received a secret shopper asignment with a certified check for $3540.00. Was told to cash it and the go buy 3 x$1000.00 money orders but leave them completely blank. Then send them by FedEx to my contact overnight and if I did this in side of several days I would get a bonus of 300.00 well I did not send any money to the scammers.

On 12/26/19 I got a Priority Mail envelope with a " Cashier's Check" for $2880.50. It also had a white piece of paper with printed instructions from top to bottom. The writing was crooked on the paper. That was fishy already. The paper had instructions for being a Mystery Shopper, with an Agent ID and everything....how official....LOL. It said that I needed to deposit the check into my bank immediately and then email them so that they can "Authorize release of the funds." OK, Lets stop right there a minute. I've been in Banking since 1997. A Cashier's Check is a Bank check for certified funds. In order to get a Cashier's check, there must be funds in the account or a Cashier's Check will not be released by a Bank. In addition, there are no "Authorization to Release Funds" for a Cashier's Check once deposited into someone's account. And thirdly, on that topic, Banks will NOT post date a Cashier's check. My letter came in 12/26/19. The Priority Letter was mailed on 12/21/19 (as shown on the slip) and the date of the Cashier's check was 12/26/19, the date I got it in the mail....from TX, to MO. So if all 3 of those things are not red flags for you, the rest of it should be.

The letter instructed that if you did all of this, which I'll spell out, within 2 business days, you'll get an extra $200 bonus. Yes, because it will take no more than that for your Bank to figure out that check is fraud. $350 was to be for my commission, $30 for my gas or transportation and I needed to, and this was very important, get a Cashier's Check for $20 to the American heart Association and when you email them, they will give you an address to mail that check to. (Because don't google an address for them!) Then I was to go to 2 different Wal-Marts and buy $40 worth of personal items, which I get to keep and then $1200 in Gift cards via 3 - $400 cards. If questioned, I'm to tell them they are for loved ones, because I'm a secret shopper and I must be discrete! Then I'm to go to a Different Wal-Mart and do the same thing. Buy $40 in personal items, which I get to keep and 3 - $400 Gift Cards to total another $1200. I'm to scratch off all of the codes on the back of every card, take pictures and text to a number.

Which when all of this is done with, you will be out $2880.50 for the fraud Cashiers Check you tried to deposit. DO NOT DO IT!

It happened with me this week .I deposited cheaque on 23rd December and funds was available in my account on 25th December. On 26th I transferred $1000 and $1050 and bought $300 Walmart gift cards and scratch them and pic.shot sent to text message. Today my bank told me that cheaque is bounced.
Now I have to pay back all money to my bank. What should I do know ? Does anyone have experience of any solution?

I received a check for 2450.00 to be a mystery shopper, cashiers check drawn on fifth third bank , its scam

My scammers asked for a credit card they could fund to support the shop. And I gave it to them. I have also filed an FTC complaint. Here is the assignment:
***************************************************************
Task 1 *While you approach the Store..you will check the surroundings to see how clean they are. * Walk into the Best Buy Store and purchase 2 BestBuy Gift Cards. $500/ CARD VALUE.
STORE ASSIGNMENT:- While purchasing the Cards, take note of the following : •How long it took you to get services. •The smartness of the attendant• Customer service professionalism •How clean is the environment• What was your overall experience with the staff in the store? Comments: These experiences would be needed to complete your survey report form which would be sent to you after confirming your purchase. ASSIGNMENT FUNDS Payment:$8,000.00 Shopping expenses: $5,300.0 Salary:$300.00 / Survey Send email and text message immediately you purchase the Cards, Survey report form and further instructions about the audit and the shipping process will be sent after confirming this survey receipt.
SEND A TEXT TO ‪‪‪(424) 349 4651
*****************************************************
Notice the numbers and the math...I checked my credit card and they did make the deposit, but it hadn't cleared all the way when I canceled the card. Now the funds cleared and they were paid by phone, so the ccard company can't return it to them. They are texting me to do the shop, but I am scared to engage with them further. What should I do?

My girlfriend got the offer was told to send the gift cards she thought it was real my mom went to the bank they took 500 out and the bank called to say the check was on hold for 7 days so that money we we’re givin was our fault?

Me and my husband recently received a FedEx envelope with a check and a few papers describing about being a mystery shopper. It was very tempting to cash that check, but, with all the latest scams , that we have heard about, we decided to check it out before hand. I’m so glad that we did, because this was definitely a scam. Just always be on the safe side and check it out first. Don’t be an idiot! I hope this helps other people .

I recieved the same thing .i had an idea it was an scam so i didnt deposit the check .i let the mail carrier in the building i work at look at it .it had an phone number that wasnt a working number she google the address .then she told me to send everything back to sender .i wrote on the envelope return to sender. So glad i didnt make the same mistake.

Got home to find one wanting me to go to best buy. HA! I don't think so scooter!

Oh my God, the same thing happened to me. Except it was Rockstar Energy Drink Ended up bouncing my account. 4 / $3,500 I just lost my mom. I just had major back surgery go wrong. And I thought this would be a sure way to bring money in Wilson drive around as a moving billboard sign. They gave me the money to put the wraps on give me money to take the wraps off. The bank even recovered 95% of their money, but yet still want to say I owe them over $2,000. My credit has gone to crap over it. They took money out of my bank account that was for my disability and child support that they never should have. Berkshire Bank told me basically I had to wait because it was being investigated. This was a year-and-a-half later, and I'm still not heard anything to this day. I received two more checks in the recent few months and completely just rip them up and threw them in the garbage because it doesn't do any good turning them in. They cannot find where they come from.

I got a FELONY on my record now due to an internet scam just like that!!! Cashed a U.S. POSTAL MONEY ORDER and turned out to be fake!!!! I hope nobody else falls for it. ☹️

I just got this in the mail and everything shows signs of a scam

Just a warning, my daughter signed up for a secret shopper job on indeed.com and was then sent this exact scam with two postal money orders for $1000 each.

I just received a $2,400 check today to become a secret shopper but thought I should do some checking first. So I guess I was right, it is a scam. That really sucks cause I could really use the money right now!! So who do I take this information to?? I have the check, letter and envelope it cane in.

I clicked on a mystery shopper ad, thru a sweepstakes site. I recieved an e-mail that my application had been accepted.Several days later, I recieved a Priority USPS mail envelope, containing instructions and a check for 4770.00. (*1st clue-way more than I expected.) Instructions wer to deposit in my bank account, then go to WalMart customer service and purchae 2 money orders for 1000.00 each, NOT to sign them, and to send by Fed Ex (same day) along with the receipt for them. (2nd clue). I was to keep 750.00 to cover my gas and expenses. (3rd clue). As I sit here and look at a check that was very tempting, I have decided to take it to my bank. I suspect I will be bringing the entire package home to use as a fire starter. Note: The scam is under the name of MarketForce, which is an actual company, but this is NOT their deal.

I got an assignment from In-Touch Survey Systems. They sent a check for $2,350. The check seemed fake right from the start. Along with the check, we received the instructions. The instructions are to buy two Amazon gift cards at Winndixie and another two gift cards at Amazon. Each gift card would be for $500. Then, we have to scratch off the gift card code and send it to them. After one day of not responding to the email and texts, they threaten me that they will call the “feds” on me and that they will be at my house in 48 hours to interrogate me.

Back in March of 2017 I was sent a fake check of $2,400 and I was supposed to use the $2,000 to buy iTunes gift cards, scratch them then send them to an email I was provided. I would keep the $400 to myself. My parents and I were still debating whether or not the check was a fake. We went to the bank to see what they will say and they automatically just gave us the money. We didn’t know they will automatically just give us the money without checking if the check was real. Those people were forcing me to do what they say before I found out. That’s how my mother lost $2,000 from mystery shoppers. They were even clues that it was a scam but we ignore them and we were victims.

Ok i got several text from this unknown number asking me if i have received my check and instructions. Well i got a letter from FedEx with a check for $2,500.00 and instructions to go to 2 different Walmarts and so on. When i text the person back saying i know this is a scam and i never signed up for anything like this. They told me i was insulting them, next i told them i am calling my local police station and the news station and they stopped texting me and asked me to shred the check. Wow some crazy people.

I have recently been almost a victim to fake check scams. Thank goodness for good friends who warned me. Im unemployed and just signed a lease on an apartment that i already have no idea how im going to be able tokeep. If i hadnt had such a good friend who pointedme your direction i would probably be living in a box under a bridge right now. Thank you for your service. I voided bothchecks , sentthem a textsaying they were a scam andtook them to the place i was to critic.

Hi I applied for mystery shopper at www. consumera pproachassessment. they sent me $2950 check and asked me to deposit in my bank account and then to purchase 4 (gift cards) x $500 = $2000 at Walmart. I previously worked at Walmart for years and I know that attempting this will set off red flags at Walmart since purchasing separate gift cards with big amounts or more than $1500 is considered a scam in their policy. This was what made me suspicious about them and then they also said to send proof of purchased gift cards. This is a scam right? Or does anyone know if this mystery shopper company is legit?

I received a check from them and was prompted to deposit the check in my account via mobile phone and to keep $300 for my commission and then buy some eBay cards, scratch the back of them, then pay $39.50 to a charity

I received a big check amount that I haven’t deposited from someone who posted on Facebook they were looking for mystery shoppers. Haven’t deposited it because I think it’s a scam anyone out there that can help me answer the question

I received USPS Express envelope with letter and check for $3,050.00. Instructions were to deposit check in my account DO NOT attempt to cash at bank the check was issued on. I was to then to withdraw funds after 3 days ( check will be clear) ; and purchase several gift cards take pictures of the cards, and text unknown person at 609 402 9769. Needless to say I did not comply!

Hey so I’m reading other comments however I didn’t get a check I got a money order with instructions on what to do I kinda figured it was a scam cause it told me to buy a Visa card and take pictures and send it to the number it gave me did anybody else get a money or you guys all received checks?

I received a text message about a mystery shopper so I looked it up and found this so I am thinking that it is a scam but not for sure will keep looking into it Thank you for this information it was very helpful Thank you JD

between my partner and I have recieved 6 checks written for $1973.49 each...they say it is an E-bay/walmart survey program. Giving us store options to go on and buy ebay gift card in different amounts. Everything looks legit, alls I had in my mind that it was too good to be true..I went into walgreens and they then told me it was a scam.

I have been a mystery shopper for over a year. I have been shocked and angry to have been denied several shopping assignments because they set an “age restriction.” Isn’t that discrimination? Thank you.

I recently received a letter and check from a secret shopper company (walshop service partnering company) with information on an assignment
I’m trying to find out if this company is legitimate before I proceed with anything else- do you know if they are or not? Thank you in advance for any information you can give me

2 days ago I received a priority mail envelope with a mystery shopper assignment with a "cashier check" for the amount of $1.950.70
Supposedly I had to go to Whole Foods & Walmart and buy $800 gift cards. The assignment pay rate was $300... After I googled the name of the person signing the letter (Jim H. Mont) he died in 2019... The address/person name on the priority label "live" in NC once again googled the address, it came out to be a tiny little house in the middle of nowhere. These scammers don't stop!... How can I report this?

I got the same letter Friday,identical, signed by Jim. H.Mont The check was for $1.950.70. At least switch it up a little.lol

Wesley Thomas of the name that scanner used there is also a Dennis Scott apart of the scheme they sent a check detailed instructions to take a cut for yourself and buy gift cards at Walmart

the visiting 2 Wal-Mart stores is a definite scam. Even with mobile deposits it takes 3 business days for the check to clear your bank and they will harass you immediately to go buy the gift cards
For them

Yes THOSE MYSTERY SHOP IS A SCAM WHO SEND A CHECK OVER A THOUSAND AN TELL YOU TO CASH FOR THEM FIRST OF ALL WHY TRUST SENDING MONEY OUT TO SOMEONE NEEDS A JOB OR ETC. DONT BELIEVE ITS A SCAM

I just received a packet from USPS with letter & check enclosed asking me to go purchase 2 gift cards at 2 different locations. For a total of 4 gift cards of $405 each. Big scam!!!!need to crack down on these idiots!!! Not cool

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