Mystery Shopper Scam… Don't Fall For It

So I got a letter in the mail along with a check for $3,540.00 and I’m thinking OMG what’s this?  I start to read the letter, basically it says that on a previous survey I indicated that I would be interested in making extra income on a part time basis and that I had been selected to Mystery Shop in my area.  So here’s what I’m thinking at this moment.. OMG one of the many websites I’ve been to in regards to working at home has finally paid off. 

Next the letter tells me that I can use $100 of the money to shop at one of four locations, I get to keep $300, and the rest of the money I have to wire to an account specified by my agent (it lists two names and a phone #) using western union or money gram.  It continues on to tell me that I will be paid $300 per week for the first 3 months and then $500 a week after that.  Hubby and I discuss how this would be great and how we could protect ourselves just in case it’s a scam by opening a separate bank account.  I’m thinking fantastic this is just the boost we need in this economy.  Then after a phone call to my mom and a little time on the Internet, reality starts to sink in that this is a SCAM.

Here’s how this scam works…. they have you cash this bogus check, use $100 to shop, pay yourself $300  and wire the rest to a location of their choice.  HERE’S THE KICKER, THE CHECKS ARE BOGUS and if the checks are cashed by financial institutions – and they often are – the individuals who cash them are responsible for the lost funds.  So basically your cashing a bad check, wiring the money to a third party location and by the time the bank realizes what happened they’re gone and your responsible for paying the bank back because you cashed the check. 

So tomorrow I will be turning this mail over to either the police or the US Postal Inspection Services.  Anyway, I wanted to post this because in this economy it’s an easy scam to fall for, especially if your behind in your bills or have medical bills to pay.  I consider myself fairly smart but for a split second I thought it was legitimate. 

Things to look for.. My Letter said it was from Mystery Shoppers Research Inc. in Los Angelos, CA yet the postage on the Envelope was from Canada (Canada is a common source of Internet and postal scams).  This scam can appear in various forms please check out the following link on what you need to do if you think you’ve been victimized by a fraudster or if you want to make yourself more aware.  http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/checkfraud.pdf

9 thoughts on “Mystery Shopper Scam… Don't Fall For It

  1. Thanks for this post!

    I just found your blog here on Google. Today I received the same letter and, of course, was highly suspicious of it.

    I will do the same as you and report this to the postmaster. Thanks again!

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  2. Your welcome! I know how close we came to cashing the check and I didn’t want someone who was possibly going through harder times than us to fall for it. So I put up this post to warn people and looks like it worked 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and letting me know my post helped you.

    Kirst

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  3. Hey There! Thanks for the information. I just received a check in the mail too and did the research on it right away. I found your blog along with several others. Thank you for taking to the time to write this!

    There was a national campaign that kicked-off October 2007 for this very scam. You can now go to http://www.fakechecks.org to report your experience. I recommend it.

    Best wishes, ~Tonya

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  4. I really wish that I did this research yesterday when I revieved a letter from Nationwide Research that had a check for $3990.00 in it. The letter read that my application was accepted and I was chosen to be a Rep in my area and that this was a paid training so that I would get familiar with the secret shopping experience. I was being paid $200 per hour and that the training was to last about 2 hours. So out of the almost $4000 check I was going to get $400. And the rest was to be wired through Money Gram in any Wal-Mart to a location that was going to $3500 wired and the other $90 was for the wire fee. It went on to tell me to call (905) 782-1362 to activate my payment and to deposit it in my account with 48 hours. I called the number thinking like most of all my unpaid bills. I talked to a lady that sounded like she was in a call center atmosphere and she advised me that the check was activated and that I was to deposit it and then call them back as soon as I did. However, I was smart. I went to my bank where I spoke with a manager and told her my fears about the check being a scam, she in turn gave me the phone number to HSBC bank, the financial institute that the check was from. I called the number and gave the representative, who was reluctate to help me at first, the account number and the amount on the check. After being on hold for about 3 minutes she came back and informed me that the check was not good. The name on my letter was Nationwide Research and the name on the check was Universal Research Inc. both out Southhampton N.Y. After talking to the rep from the bank, I went straingt to my local police department to file a report, there the police officer told me that sending the crap through the mail really was not illegal but he did a misc. report and told me that was probably as far as it would go.
    After reading your blog I noticed that the envelope was still sitting on my desk and I took a look at it the stamp is from Canada and it has a Canadian address as the return address. I don’t know exactly why I didn’t research last night before going to my bank but I am glad that I did not cash the check and go pay bills with the $400 that was suppose to be mine. I am glad that your blog is on here and hopefully people see this if they get a check in the mail before they cash it and spend the money…..
    I have been told more then once today that if you get something in the mail and it seems to good to be true then more then likely it isn’t…….

    Thanks and I hope this helps someone else..

    Shalan

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  5. i was sent the same letter and a check for $3,970
    telling basically that i needed to deposit the check into my account and we would be recieving an income of $400 per week to secretly shop at different store like walmart,sears,and other outlets. well i inatially though hey this is great but got to also thinking that it sounded way to good to be true and sure enough it was we got our local bank to run a check on the check and come to find out that the check was fraudulent. why cant these people be stoped? they are taking advantage of poor innocent people who are on a tight low budget income, like myself.
    to anyone please research the information before you actually cash it.

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  6. I just called on this type of check to get some info, and the guy was very rude. I was suspicious, but thought if the check clears before I do any shopping, then I’d be okay. Now that I’ve read these, I’m not going to do it. He got really upset when I told him I was concerned that this could be a fraud. I think I know why now. He was pretty sure I was on to him. Thanks, for posting.

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  7. Thank you for posting this information. I also received one of these bogus checks. After reading your posts, I reported it to the postal office. I, luckily, had not used the money. My jerk was from Tacoma, Washington.

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  8. Thank you for posting this information. I have just received same too good to be true offer of a part-time job from Universal tEch Inc.based in Arizona, as a mystery shopper. Indeed the offer was good with salary of $250/week and shopping money worth $100.00. If you come to realize the job offer, it was so simple. But what really struck me are the names of third persons involved to send the big bucks to who are all from New York. After reading your posted blog, I also noticed that the stamp is from Canada. OMG! Some people can be so rude to victimize some people. Thanks God that I did not get involved in this scam.

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