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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 14, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , mystery shopper, ,   

    Scammers send fake check to police department 

    Scammers send fake check to police department

    By Greg Collier

    When we came across this story, not only did we find it amusing, but it also shows a key part of most scams.

    A police captain in Appleton, Wisconsin, received a strange piece of mail at his office. It was a priority envelope that contained a letter and a check. The letter offered its recipient a position as a mystery shopper. The mystery shopper or secret shopper scam is one that’s been around a long time. It even predates the internet but has adapted well to the online world.

    For those who may not know, many of the bigger chain stores employ mystery shoppers. These are store employees who go around to each store posing as a customer. Their job is to rate the store’s performance through things like appearance, customer service, and selection. However, the job isn’t as commonplace as the scammers would have you believe.

    In the mystery shopper scam, scammers send their victims a fake or stolen check. The victim is told to deposit the check in their bank account and use the funds to purchase store gift cards. Big box stores like Walmart and Target often have their names used in this scam. Once the victim buys the gift cards, they’re supposed to give the gift card numbers to the scammer, who tells the victim to keep some of the money from the check as payment.

    By the time the victim’s bank realizes the check is fake, the scammer has already made off with the gift cards, leaving the victim responsible for the amount of the fake check to their bank.

    So, did scammers intentionally try to recruit a police captain? Probably not. Scammers like to cast as wide a net as possible. The scammers most likely bought a bunch of mailing lists, and sent fake checks to as many people as possible. Most modern scams can be profitable to scammers if they only get a handful of victims to take the bait out of the thousands they try to fool.

    As far as this particular scam goes, real companies are not just going to send out checks to random people telling them they now have a job with them. And any job that asks you to deposit a check into your personal bank account to use for business purposes is a scammer.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , mystery shopper, , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: Teachers targeted in scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re presenting our readers with three scams that, while not new, deserve to be reviewed.


    Reports from Pennsylvania are saying that the Mystery Shopper or Secret Shopper scam is making the rounds again. Many retail chains do employ secret shoppers who go around to the various stores and rate their experience. However, scammers would have you believe these positions are plentiful, which they are not.

    In Pennsylvania, reports there state that victims of the scam are being given fake checks to deposit in their bank accounts. They’re then asked to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards using the money from the fake checks. The victims are then asked to give the gift card numbers to their fake employer. By the time the victim’s bank notices the check is fake, the scammers have made off with the amount of the gift cards, while the victim is responsible for the amount of the fake check to their bank.

    Remember, no legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit money into your bank account that is supposed to be used for business purposes.


    Our next scam comes to us from the Jacksonville, Florida-area. Reports there state that a police impersonation scam is ongoing there. In this particular police impersonation scam, the scammers are posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The scammers tell their victims that a box of drugs intended for the victim was intercepted. In order to avoid arrest, the victims are asked to make some kind of payment.

    If you receive a phone call like this, it’s recommended not to give the caller any personal information before hanging up.

    Again, no law enforcement department or agency is going to call you and threaten you with arrest if you don’t make a payment to them.


    Lastly, we have another police impersonation scam, and it’s the most common one. What’s different about this scam is who the scammers are targeting.

    Reports out of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area are reporting an increase in the jury duty scam. This is where the scammers pose as local police and tell their victims they missed jury duty and a warrant is about to be issued for their arrest. Of course, a payment over the phone will make the warrant magically disappear.

    Like we said, this is hardly a new scam, but the scammers are specifically targeting school teachers in the Pittsburgh-area. The scammers have even been calling schools and are asking to be patched in to teachers while they’re teaching class.

    The report doesn’t say why scammers are targeting teachers, but if we had to hazard a guess, they’re targeting a profession where teachers usually have their hands full with what’s going on in the classroom and could be distracted easily by the scammers.

    When it comes to matters concerning jury duty, all communication is usually done through postal mail and not over the phone.


    These three scams can happen at anytime, anywhere in the country. Hopefully, we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect yourself.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , mystery shopper, ,   

    Secret shopper scam seeks more targets 

    Secret shopper scam seeks more targets

    By Greg Collier

    In yesterday’s post, we discussed a job scam that seemed to be picking up in activity during the holiday season, that was the reshipping scam. Now, it’s being reported that in some parts of the country that another old job scam is ramping up during the holidays, and that is the secret shopper scam.

    Secret shopper is actually a real position with many major brick and mortar retailers. They’re employed by the retailers to go to the various store locations and rate the performance of the store and its employees. However, it’s not as common a position that the scammers would have you believe. Scammers post ads for secret shopper positions year round, but like most scammers, they’re really looking to target those looking to add to their holiday income.

    The Charlotte, North Carolina area has reported an uptick in secret shopper scams. Residents there have been responding to the ads for secret shoppers, only to realize it’s a scam. Victims are being sent checks for thousands of dollars and are told to deposit the check into their bank accounts. They are then instructed to keep $300 for themselves and $50 for gas. The rest of the money is supposed to be used to buy Walmart gift cards to supposedly rate Walmart’s service. The victim is supposed to give the numbers from the gift card to their supposed employer.

    The problem with this scam is that the checks are fake. By the time the victim’s bank realizes the check is fraudulent, the scammers have already made off with the money that was put on the gift cards. This leaves the victim holding the bag when it comes to reimbursing the bank for the amount of the phony check.

    No legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit funds that are supposed to be used for business into your account. If they do, that’s a good indication that the check is fraudulent. Another red flag is almost anything to do with gift cards. Unless they’re being used as an actual gift, gift card numbers should never be given to anyone over the phone.

    If you really want to find a legitimate secret shopper position, your best bet is to check with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association at their website.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , money orders, mystery shopper, ,   

    New scam switches out fake money orders for checks 

    New scam switches out fake money orders for checks

    One of the more common online scams is the mystery shopper scam. Mystery shopper is a real position. They are people hired by retail outlets to go into their stores and rate the customer service of each individual store. However, the job isn’t as common as most scammers would have you believe.

    In the mystery shopper scam, scammers will pose as these retailers and pretend to hire their victims. The scammers will then send a fake check to the victim and instruct them to deposit the check. The scammers then instruct the victim to go buy some gift cards with the money and the victim can keep what’s leftover. The victim doesn’t often find out they were scammed until the fake check bounces in their bank account and the victim is held responsible by the bank for the difference.

    A report out of North Carolina is claiming that scammers are now using fake US Postal Service money orders instead of fake checks to pull off this scam. While the fake form of payment has changed, the results are still the same. If a victim deposits the phony money orders into their account they will be responsible for the damages once the bank realizes the money orders are fake.

    As we previously stated, mystery shopper is a legitimate position. However, in order to become one, you have to become certified with the Mystery Shoppers Association and you have to contact them. They will never contact anyone out of the blue.

    Also, please keep in mind that no legitimate employer will have you deposit a check or money order into your personal account that’s supposed to be used for business purposes later. This is almost a sure sign of an employment scam.

    If you receive what you suspect is a phony US Postal money order, you can take it to your local post office, and they will be able to determine if it’s real or not.

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