Fake secret shopper jobs scam jobless

March 31, 2009 5:56:30 PM PDT
In this rotten economy, job offers can sound awfully tempting, but you have to be careful. Bogus offers can cost you plenty. Here is an example of what to watch out for.

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They make earning money sound as easy as counting 1-2-3. Unfortunately, that's how fast you could lose your money.

Delores Klisiak spends a lot of time at her Newark home online looking for work and she's not having much luck.

"The job market is extremely bad right now, very bad," says Klisiak.

She's been out of work for seven months now, so when she received a $2,500 cash advance to be a mystery shopper, it got her attention.

"I said 'Wow, I can do this.' But I got to thinking, why do they want me to cash it at my bank immediately?" says Klisiak.

Dan Schott of the Secret Service thinks he knows why. If Delores had done as instructed, she would have deposited her check and the bank would have put a five-day hold on it. But before that hold could expire, her instructions were to go to Wal-Mart and spend $100 of that money and report back on her customer experience. Then she was instructed to wire nearly $2,000 back to her employer through MoneyGram International, supposedly to test its services.

"Shortly thereafter, the check is determined to be counterfeit and of course the victim is on the hook for all those monies," says Schott.

Schott estimates that last year alone, there were $198 million worth of fraud losses associated with these types of scams.

Klisiak suspects the check she received is counterfeit. She said she could find no record of a Bank of New York at the address listed on the check. So she contacted 7 On Your Side.

7 On Your Side talked to the Bank of New York and it confirmed the account numbers on the check were invalid. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney then called the company that sent the check, Goodman Survey Agent Services, pointed out the fake check and pressed the company further. The man from the company said he was based in Ontario, Canada in the town of Mississauga. When 7 On Your Side pressed him for his name and reasons why Klisiak shouldn't be concerned, the call was disconnected. Klisiak hasn't heard from him since. The Better Business Bureau says that's a good thing.

"People who are losing their jobs now are being prayed on. It's because its stressful or emotional, you're more likely to embrace or consider something you probably wouldn't consider before," said Gene O'Neil, from the Better Business Bureau.

The Secret Service says if you get an email about a mystery shopping job, don't open it and certainly don't cash the check. If you do, it will bounce and you'll be liable for all of that money.

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