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Fake offers for secret shopper jobs

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Did you get an offer to be a secret shopper for a well-known company? It might come as text, email, or letter inviting you to work on a ‘research project starting soon in your area.’ Several people who got offers to be secret shoppers for grocery stores, like Whole Foods, thought they were scams, and wrote to the FTC to warn others. They were right — the offers are scams — and now we’re extending the warning.

People spotted signs of a fake check scam in the bogus Whole Foods secret shopper offer (which was from a scammer, not really Whole Foods). That’s when someone sends you a check and convinces you to deposit it and quickly send them money. In this scam, the recruiter would send shoppers a check for more than $2,000 and they would:

  • Cash or deposit the check immediately
  • Buy gift cards with most of the money
  • Keep about $450 as their pay
  • Scratch the coating off the gift cards to show the PIN codes
  • Send pictures of the cards’ front and back (with the codes) to the recruiter

If anyone ever tells you to deposit a check, withdraw money, and send it to someone, that’s a scam. When the check later turns out to be fake, the bank will want the money back. And if anyone tells you to go buy gift cards and share the PIN numbers, that’s a scam, too. Once the scammer has the PIN, they also have all the money from the cards.

So, if you get an offer like this, don’t respond. Tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. If you already cashed a fake check and sent money to a scammer, find out how to report to gift card, wire transfer and money order businesses. Read more in How to Spot, Avoid and Report Fake Check Scams.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

I have the fake check

I got one about advertising from a company wrapping my truck with their logo. I sent me a check and I take it to my bank to have it checked out it was not real. They stamped it counterfeit company keeps calling me keeps texting me I have ignored them asking for the money.

I went thru same experience , only that my bank pd me the check they sent after a 2 day hold. Nxt day bank notified me acct closed! I owed the $. I had already sent the $ forward to supppsed ad designer! Was i a fool or what! Ive made sev attempts to recover my loss. Meantime, bank closed my acct and sent it to a collection agency! my credit is shot now! Anyway, they really play on honest people just trying to mk an extra buck to live in this expensive world. They sure played me. Not sure at this point what to do?

you aren't alone,when it comes to being scam.i felt like a fool.until I found out that I could report this kind of thing.

You can help law enforcement by reporting this 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. You can choose whether or not to give your name and other personal information. Thank you.

They emailed me or texted me. To be a secret shopper for CVS and or Walgreens. Luckily or unluckily I’ve been scammed by fake check scams before and reported it to the FTC scam site. My wife and I both received checks in the amounts of $2976.00 and here wax almost the same . They said we were to buy products and rate the cleanliness of the store, the helpfulness of cashiers etc. when they initially got in contact with us, they asked,” how would you like to shop and be paid to do it plus keep all items you buy”? “You will use your money and be reimbursed and or we will send you Capitol to shop with or both.” Once we got the checks and saw it was bogus and way too high of an amount of money , we reported it, within a day or two we got texts saying “ surely by now you’ve received the check, deposit it and get in touch with us NOW, RIGHT NOW!” We of course did not and they sent another text or two and that was it . It’s sad that they prey on people looking for honest work or opportunity and don’t care whom they hurt . I sincerely hope they all get caught at one point or another and have to make reparations for their thievery. Sincerely, Steve Knight

This happened to me last year. I found the add on Craigslist. They sent me a check and everything but thank God I did not cash it. I did report it though. Thanks again for the confirmation that I did the right thing.

I just got another one but it is a cashier's check from a local bank? Wouldn't I be able to go to that bank and cash it ? Of course it may be fake but they would tell me.

You are responsible for the checks you cash or deposit, even if you don’t know they’re fake. It can take weeks for a bank to discover that a check was a forgery. Until the bank confirms that the funds from the check were deposited into your account, you are responsible for any money you withdraw against that check. You can read more about Fake Checks in this FTC article.

I was sent a money order it was delivered by mail in a first class envelope. With two money orders and instructions telling me what yo do. Luckily I was able to figure it out I didnt deposit I threw them out

Yes I have got several emails like being a secret shopper but I didn’t and I unsubscribe but then here will be another one come what can you do

Should we report it when we get this letter and check in the mail and who to, would it be a good idea to put on social media to warn others, I caught it was a scam but others might not?

You can report the details 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.

If you get a check and letter through the mail, you can take it all to your local post office and ask them to forward it to the Postal Inspectors. 

I have received 3 different check the 2nd one in December 2019 for over $2,000.00 to have a decal for a engery drink co put the sticker on my car i was to keep $400.00 and send the rest to them i am not dum so i took the check to my bank and opened a savings account. That check was a cashiers check my personal banker told me it was a.scam check so it was shreaded the first check i dont remember what it was for. But the 3rd check they. gave me 24 hours after it was deposited into my account to buy gift cards scratch off the backs take pictures and text the numbers to a phone number i would advise any one if you receive a check and not sure about open a savings account DO NOT DEPOSIT IN YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT ARE YOUR PERSONAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT .

Last week I got 2 envelopes in the mail with tracking numbers, a letter saying to deposit into your account keep 200 and buy $800 in I'm at cards as a mystery shopper. The 2 money orders I took to the post office and they showed me the difference between the real postal money orders and the scammers postal money order. Then they were to be handed over to the police. I told him I got one last year and I threw it in the garbage.
So be very careful the scammers are getting better at these money orders.. Always have it checked out before you fall for a scam..

This happened to my girlfriend's mother a few months ago. She received a check in the amount of $950.00 and asked me if this looked legit. I told her almost certainly not. Guess how much one must steal from someone in California in order for it to be deemed a felony, rather than a misdemeanor? Answer: any amount over $950.00 !!!

I'll report the checks I received. I did deposit one of them but then waited to see what would happen---it was no good.

I got one of the offers on my e-mail. I have been a secret shopper for a legitimate company years ago and I know they don't give $400. for a brief time in the store. they only pay pocket money, or they did when I did this. So I just deleted it cause I knew it was a scam. But some people that are on tough times might think this is real!

I got a text message this morning from a secret shopper fake, who threatened me that the FBI would be at my doorstep before 1000AM, if I didn’t send in my report about Best Buy. I texted them back telling never contact me again.

I had a customer fall for a scam and it cost him over $6K to his CC. Not only did he go out and purchase over $6K in gift cards he gave the scammers all his info. The scammers made bogus payments to his CC acct which later retuned. Banks are not responsible when customers are scammed like this and this does not fall under the fraud liability. People need to beware! 99.99 percent of the time no company is going to give you free money. And why people fall for these scams is beyond me. I wish people were more aware of these types of scams. I will be too happy when these scammers are caught. People don’t realize it is a global issue and if you go to YouTube look up romance scams.... Don’t be a victim people!!!

The number 1(281)413-9941 and it's a fake check scam. Keep an eye out.

Husband took the fake cashier's check today to the "issuing" credit union and asked if it was real. The credit union confirmed it was fake and is reporting this as check and mail fraud. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

I have 4 checks - ALL SCAMS - and they keep sending them to me!! I have never cashed one and they all want me to "Secret Shop" at Walmart's service center!! I have told them they are trying to scam me. I gave the information to my bank trying to make them aware. Whether or not they did anything, I don't know! But these people can't be very smart!

How do I report the Secret Survey Scam, and the fake check sent along with it.

I just got a check for $1950 from Geiger and Peters through someone asking me to be a secret shopper for Whole Foods. I went along as I knew Whole Foods would never use someone with such poor grammar and spelling. Of course, I was instructed to cash it and then await further instructions, which I did not do.

This scam is still going on. I guess as long as they can get money out of people it pays to keep going. Can't remember when or why I signed up for this. Maybe I thought it was a Whole Foods opportunity. Any way, we received a Priority Postage cardboard mailer in the mail. Looked real official. Inside were a cashiers check and instructions. Once I saw the check, I knew it was a scam. Any time someone wants to give you money, it's almost always a scam or has some type of finical tie behind it. Did not have to read the flyer that came with the check, but I did. They wanted me to cash the check and purchase Sephora gift cards for $2,500. After purchasing the gift cards they wanted me to send pictures of the front and back with the secret number scratched off and revealed. They did an excellent job of making everything look real. Now I'm getting text messages. I thought about playing mind games with them, but not worth my effort. However, I think I will respond back and tell them that I have reported them to FTC and block their phone number. I'm sure their phone number probably changes a lot. Sorry to those who lost money to these scammers and a "Good job done" to those who recognized and reported these scammers.

I did get a text message for Whole Foods and did a google search as it looked very suspicious. Just want to know if this can be reported somewhere. Please let me know.

I called up the credit union to verify the scammed casher's check and sent them a copy via email and where It was sent from.

I just got a Text saying that. There will be a huge research project in my area, and they need secret choppers. But they change the technic a little bit. Now is a "Store Evaluator", and they sent a link. Don't fall for that!

I received a text saying the same from 12813812916 on 8-20-2020. Reported it to FTC right away.

The below was texted from. +1 (346) 348-5800
Hello How are you doing today? The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the economy and the way we do business. We have taken certain steps to ensure that we are able to provide you with full support and service as we all wait for the pandemic to turn around. Whole Foods Market®is beginning an exceptionally huge research project in your area. This project happens each week, so we have to select Shoppers to function as a store evaluator. You will get $400 on every task. Every task requires 20-30 minutes of time at the store in addition to time to review your post-visit reports. CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION rebrand. ly/ 60 vt2 kp

I just received the same message, from a different number though. (281)639-6330
It sounds like a scam to me.

I got a text for both the car wrap and the secret shopper for the Walmart in my town haven’t received anything yet. When I receive the check who do I contact to turn them in before they change accounts so they can be stopped

I received the fake check for $2950 with instructions to purchase 3 Nike gift cards. Thank you so much for posting information on this scam. Saved me a lot of money and headaches!

I was just scammed by one of those so called secret shopper, now I owe my bank! These scammers must be stopped!!

I received the email and indicated that I was interested. After receiving another message with information about payments and assignments, I decided I to see what all it entails. But thank the Lord—my discernment kicked in. I googled reviews on “Whole Foods Mystery Shoppers.” This link popped up!! Thanks for saving me a major headache!!

This is the content of a text msg I received twice from mobile# 346.306.9340. First received 7.8.20 @ 7:54pm Pacific. Link went to a cannot find page though so a good thing. "The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the economy and the way we do business. We have taken certain steps to ensure that we are able to provide you with full support and service as we all wait for the pandemic to turn around. Whole Foods Market®is beginning an exceptionally huge research project in your area. This project happens each week, so we have to select Shoppers to function as a store evaluator. You will get $400 on every task. Every task requires 20-30 minutes of time at the store in addition to time to review your post-visit reports. CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION:/bit.ly/8xITi3
Human Resources Manager - Global Operations Christopher Michael." then recieved another text from the same# @ 11:24am Pacific 7.9.20 with a different link. I didn't click on it though.
"The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the economy and the way we do business. We have taken certain steps to ensure that we are able to provide you with full support and service as we all wait for the pandemic to turn around. Whole Foods Market®is beginning an exceptionally huge research project in your area. This project happens each week, so we have to select Shoppers to function as a store evaluator. You will get $400 on every task. Every task requires 20-30 minutes of time at the store in addition to time to review your post-visit reports. CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION:
bit.l y/Dts XX Human Resources Manager - Global Operations Christopher Michael."

I'm so grateful for this post and that I read this in enough time. The CSET letter appeared odd. I was under the impression only Whole Foods stores were recruiting. That tipped me off. In addition, there were spelling, punctuation and sentencing errors on the letter and my check.

I just received a text to be a Whole foods shopper. Glad that I looked this up. TY

I received a check $2000+ for working for Whole Food Inc...! I AM SURE IT IS FAKE!!!

I received a check for $2,950.52.
I was to purchase the nike gift cards and my sons believed it to be a scam.
So I looked it up. Thank you for uncovering this.

Apparently the scammer is sending these checks out using my address as the return address. I keep getting these envelopes because they are marked “return to sender” and come to me but I didn’t send them!

This morning I received a text message from 346-348-5800 regarding an upcoming project with Whole Foods, be warned. Looks like they are at it again.

I received a priority envelope with a cashiers check for $1650.50 and instructions to deposit into my account. As a “secret shopper “ I then should purchase $1200.00 of gift cards and send them photos of the front and back of the cards. Must keep the cards for future shopping assignment. My son in law informed me it was a scam thank goodness. He was aware of this from his banking experience.

I thought I had seen it all, but when I got an inviatation to be a secret shopper for WalMart it looked pretty real, so I answered. A couple days later I got an envelope with a check for $2400 and instructions to deposit and go get gift cards. I took a photo of the check and sent it to the bank to deposit and they put a two-week hold on it. Thankfully I checked it out before any funds drawn against it and I reported the fraud to the bank and the FTC.

I just received a text stating that WalMart was starting a secret shopper research project with a link where I can sign up. I'm working to block the number.

I got this today. The problem is this scam keeps happening because it works, unfortunately.
WHOLE FOOD ® is starting an exceptionally huge research project in your general vicinity. This project happens each week, so we need to choose Shoppers to work as a store evaluator. You will get $350 on each endeavor. Every task requires 20-30 minutes of time at the store in addition to time to review your post-visit reports. CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION: www. 123 formbuilder. Chris Ashley -(Manager) Whole Food Survey

I replied to a text about this "job offer", a few weeks ago. I didnt click on the link they sent me, but i copy and pasted it to my browser- i thought i was fooling them! I received my fraudulent cashiers check today, post dated for next week and called that bank immediately. I reported it to the FTC. These people sent me an email and a text stating that they sent me my stipend, to use and such. These people are horrid and take advantage of regular people.
I went through the whole process- replying to texts and sending in my email address, home address and they already had my number. They will send a PDF to your email with exact instructions, on how to purchase the gift cards, send them the info on them and lay it out exactly how you are supposed to execute.
I fell for it, but was cautioned when i saw the check.
Someone that isnt as cautioned as i am, may fall for it.

From 715-733-0433
Whole Foods Market ® is beginning an exceptionally huge research project in your area. This project happens each week, so we have to select Shoppers to function as a store evaluator. You will get $400 on every task. Every task requires 20-30 minutes of time at the store in addition to time to review your post-visit reports if you have filled our form before do not refill again. CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION:
wholefoodssurveyinc . /wholefoods
Uh
Respects-
Survey Project Referral - Global Operations

I did get one of these, and it looks very legit. Fortunately, I didn't deposit the check. But should I sent this to the FTC?

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