The schemers send out bogus checks to "hired" individuals with instructions to use the money to shop local businesses. One assignment asks that shoppers test Western Union by using a portion of the check to wire cash to a third party. By the time the consumers realize the check is fake, their money is gone. This scheme has been around for years but is now employing a new twist by using names of real legitimate companies when contacting individuals to "hire".
A man from Houston, Texas, estimates he may have lost more than $1,000 in the scheme. “We usually are very, very cautious,” he said. The man said he believed the employment opportunity was legitimate after checking the supposed company's website and doing other Internet research. He did not suspect that thieves had stolen the company’s name.
A woman from California said she lost nearly $1,200 in a similar scheme involving scammers posing as representatives.
A consumer from the Dallas, Texas, area said he learned about the program in a series of emails. One of the emails said that “our employees can earn up to $1,800 per week by completing in-store surveys while at the same time working on their own schedule.” That consumer did not fall for the scam.
BBB offers the following tips for persons contacted about mystery shopping jobs: