Scam alert: Fake secret shopper jobs

May 25, 2010 4:08:27 PM PDT
An alert has been issued for consumers interested in becoming a secret shopper. The Better Business Bureau is warning of a secret shopper scam. Kenneth Turner has had first hand experience with the con. He lost his job more than a year ago. Then he saw an ad online to become a mystery shopper, so he applied. Soon after, he received a letter in the mail and a check for $3,990.

"So I'm thinking, 'sweet! I got $3,000 dollars.' Then, immediately, I was thinking, 'why the heck would they send me $3,000," remembers Turner.

He called the bank. "The bank account number was valid, and the company was valid that had the account number, but... there were two flags on the account for fraudulent checks in the last 2 days."

That wasn't the only red flag that caught Turner's attention. The word "basis" was misspelled in the letter. "I was like, for a reputable company, something as simple as a small word they wouldn't misspell."

The Better Business Bureau says Turner took the necessary steps to protect himself. They say lots of consumers have lost thousands of dollars after cashing counterfeit checks and wiring money back to scammers, usually in Canada.

"The crooks are getting more and more sophisticated... the quality of the letters is getting better," warns Dick Epstein, President of the Better Business Bureau. He says real companies never pay consumers before they do the work. "Legitimate secret shopper jobs pay very little. You do secret shopping on a local business, and you'll get $10, $20. That's what a real secret shopper job pays."

As for Turner, he says he's glad he didn't fall for the scam, and he reiterates and old common sense warning. "If it's to good to be true... It is."

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