A new twist on secret shopping scams is preying on businesses and job seekers alike. Using the names of local companies and their bank account numbers, scammers issue fake checks to "secret shoppers," who are encouraged to deposit the checks and wire back the money.
How the Scam Works:
You receive an email informing you that you've been offered a job as a secret shopper. To get started, the message instructs you to reply and confirm your mailing address. After doing this, you will receive instructions and a check to cover your fee and shopping expenses.
When your check arrives, you notice it uses the name of a real local business. And it may even have the company's account and routing numbers. Your instructions tell you to deposit the check, subtract your fee and shopping expenses and wire the rest back... but don't do it. The check looks real, but it's a fake. Scammers often intercept real checks from businesses and "wash" them to use in scams like these.
If you deposit the check and draw money against it, you will be responsible for those funds. When the bank rejects the fake check, they will delete the advanced funds from your account.
Tips for Businesses:
Don't become a victim of a check scam. Here are some tips for working with checks.