May 15, 2012 – Memphis, TN – With a name like Axiom Research, you might expect the check and accompanying offer to be a mystery shopper to be legitimate. However, consumers from coast to coast are finding out that the Memphis firm Axiom Research LLC isn’t hiring mystery shoppers and the checks they received are fake.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a new mystery shopping scam that is using the name of the Memphis research firm in an attempt to defraud the public. Axiom Research LLC in Memphis TN has been the victim of business identity theft. Their company’s name is being used to convince folks that an offer to be a mystery shopper – accompanied by a phony check – is legitimate.
Michael Rollosson, president of Axiom Research LLC, told the BBB they weren’t hiring mystery shoppers and the checks being sent out in their name are fraudulent. “We’ve heard from people from across the country who have received the fake checks and mystery shopper solicitations,” Rollosson told the BBB. “As far as we can tell, we are the only Axiom Research LLC in the U.S., so people looking up the company name online are finding us,” Rollosson added.
The solicitation tells the unsuspecting victim that they have been selected to participate in a mystery shopping program as a consumer service evaluator of some selected merchants. The letter says that a “select few” who distinguish themselves during this initial “self-training” phase will be selected for permanent part-time positions – seemingly good news in an economy in which unemployment is still high.
Recipients of the offer are instructed to deposit the check into their bank account, withdraw the required amount to complete the shopping, and report on the service they received. A job number and password, which are required to log onto the “company’s” website to generate assignments, are included in the information, along with an evaluation form stamped “Confidential”. Recipients are directed to the website www.axiomresearch.net. According to Rollosson, that is not Axiom Research LLC’s website, but a sign-in page that links to the scammers’ website.
“Using the name of a legitimate company is a common ploy of scammers,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB president. “In this case, the company whose identity has been misappropriated is actually in the research business, which makes the mystery shopping offer even more believable.”
BBB Tips to Avoid Being the Victim of a Mystery Shopping Scam:
- Be wary of any mystery shopping offer that:
- Sends you an unsolicited check.
- Asks you to wire money back to the business or to an individual.
- Is postmarked from another country, especially Canada
- Requires a fee
- Be cautious of opportunities that offer larege sums of money for simple tasks like cashing a check or wiring money. Mystery shopping will not make you rich; at best, it will provide part-time income.
- Look for reputable mystery shopping firms that:
- Qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations.
- Enjoy a good reputation with their clients and shoppers.
- Do not charge a fee to complete an application.
- Avoid falling for claims that guarantee a position, without training.
- Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website at www.mysteryshopping.org/shoppers 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 mystery shopper.
- Check out any unsolicited offer with your BBB at 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
- Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you believe you have been the victim of a mystery shopping scam, you are advised to: