Mystery shopping job offers

November 09, 2012

BBB receives numerous complaints about fraudulent job offers for positions as 'Mystery Shoppers'. After responding to online ads or email solicitations, consumers report receiving a letter containing instructions and a cashier's check.

The instructions usually direct the recipient to deposit the cashier's check, spend a specified amount as a'mystery shopper', and send the rest back to a named individual via Western Union or MoneyGram to complete his or her 'training in financial transactions'. In most cases, consumers report being instructed to spend a couple of hundred dollars, while the balance of the check is to be wired to an individual, often located outside of the your province or even Canada.

BBB warns consumers about mystery shopping scam that is using the name of reputable companies in an attempt to defraud the public. Local businesses names are being used to convince folks that an offer to be a mystery shopper - accompanied by a phony check - is legitimate.

Using the name of a legitimate company is a common ploy of scammers. In this case, the company, whose identity has been misappropriated as a division of a legitimate name, makes the mystery shopping offer even more believable.

Although the funds from a deposited cheque may be available for use within 1-5 business days of deposit, in somecases, it can take several weeks for the bank to determine that the check is counterfeit or otherwise invalid. Instructions to draw money on cheques shortly after they have been deposited may be the work of unscrupulous companies attempting to take advantage of this technicality.

The BBB offers following tips when considering a mystery shopping opportunity:

Always check with BBB before doing business with any company at:

Exercise extreme caution when considering job offers which involve the transmission of money, especially to foreign countries. In addition to potentially significant financial loss, acting on these offers also puts you in danger of unwittingly violating provincial and even federal laws. Only forward money via wire when you know and have had personal contact with the individual.

-Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

-Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MAPCA) website at for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities. Contact the companies, not the MSPA, directly, for more information on how to become a shopper.