The BBB was made aware of a mystery shopper scam that claimed to be a BBB Accredited Business. A local business received an email communication from someone claiming to be a UK company called Retail Active.
Retail Active is a real mystery shopper and brand auditing business located in Oxfordshire, UK. They require potential mystery shoppers to submit applications via their website and their name has been used in scams before.
The BBB contacted Retail Active's fraud department and they stated that the individuals who sent the email "are NOT employees OR representatives of our company. We suggest that you treat all correspondence from these individuals as fraudulent."
The scam uses the name of a well-known mystery shopping company as well as the BBB to give the false appearance of legitimacy.
The scam informs potential victims that they will receive funds for mystery shopper projects in advance. These types of scams usually send fraudulent checks to potential victims, ask that they deposit it into their personal bank accounts, and then use the funds to test a Western Union or Money Gram wire service. Soon after the funds are wired, the victim's bank will discover the fraudulent nature of the check and remove those funds from the account. The victim is responsible for any funds spent in the mean time, including the amount wired to a third party.
Mystery shopper scams are among the most common types of scams that the BBB hears about and recommend the following tips when considering mystery shopper positions:
- Consumers should be wary of any unsolicited mystery shopper offer, especially via email.
- Ignore claims that you will make big profits easily.
- Avoid falling for claims that guarantee a position without training.
- Report businesses that send checks and ask that you use money from the checks to pay for your shopping assignments. Fraudulent checks often look real.
- NEVER pay money in advance. A legitimate mystery shopping service will not charge money for materials, training or recruiting. Never give them your credit card or bank account numbers.
- Never wire money to businesses you know little or nothing about. Wiring money is the same as sending cash. Once the money is gone, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to recover.
- Consumers may wish to check out www.mysteryshop.org to help determine if a mystery shopping opportunity is legitimate.
- Check out the BBB's Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 816-421-7800.
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