New Twist on an Old Scam: Fake Traveler's Cheques

May 07, 2013

nancy travellers cheques


Calgary, AB – May 6, 2013BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay is warning the community about a new twist on the secret-shopper scam after a Calgary victim recently received counterfeit travelers cheques in the mail.

"The mystery-shopper scam has been around for years," says Sandra Crozier-McKee, BBB President and CEO. “But this is the first time we’ve seen it with traveler’s cheques.”

The scam entices people to work from home as mystery shoppers. In this case the shopper received American Express traveler’s cheques with instructions to deposit them in his personal bank account, withdraw the amount in cash, and wire it to a third party through a company like MoneyMart or UPS.

Banks often make funds from deposited cheques available immediately or within days while uncovering a fake can take weeks. By the time the bank discovers a counterfeit traveler’s cheque, the “employer” is long gone and the victim is on the hook to repay the bank. Crozier-McKee says the new use of traveler’s cheques, could make the fraud harder to spot.

“The use of traveler’s cheques makes this case even more dangerous as inexperienced bank personnel may not deal with them often enough to know how to spot a fake,” she says. “Fortunately, the victim in Calgary became suspicious and came to the BBB with his complaint and the traveler’s cheques.”

Calgary Police Service confirmed cheques were counterfeit on Friday and are investigating the senders.

The BBB offers the following tips when looking for mystery-shopping jobs online:

  • Research mystery shopping. Check libraries, bookstores, or online sites for tips on how to find legitimate companies
  • Search for reviews the company and remember that even reviews can be falsified.
  • Legitimate companies don’t charge people to work for them
  • Never deposit a cheque or wire money as part of a mystery shopping assignment
  • Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at
  • Companies should never require certification or a fee to apply for assignments
  • Avoid companies advertising for mystery shoppers in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email.

Media contact:

Camie Leard, Director of Marketing and Communications
(403) 930-3395 or