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Wisconsin
Secret Shopper Scam Uses Manpower Name to Net Victims
August 07, 2009

As families feel the weight of the economy, more people are apt to try to make a bit extra on the side. Unfortunately, the BBB is reporting that scammers jump at the opportunity to take these people for all they are worth, as is the case with this and at least 10 other Wisconsin victims. 

When this woman, a soldier stationed at Fort McCoy, received an offer in the mail to become a Secret Shopper, and a check from Manpower promising nearly two hundred dollars in exchange for her work, she went ahead and deposited the check. After all, Manpower is a well-known organization and the check and accompanying paperwork seemed legit.

This Chicago resident was to deposit the money, make a fifty dollar purchase at Wal-Mart and secure a $3,650 Moneygram. The rest, she read, was hers to keep. Unfortunately, the check was returned, the bank closed her account, and now this soldier owes her bank $3,975.00. The major bank branch refuses to make arrangements for repayment, and instead suggested she allow her account to first become delinquent, at which point the bank may arrange a payment plan. The bank will then report her delinquency to the credit bureaus, which will affect her credit rating.

“These scammers have, in essence, hijacked the identity of a legitimate company,” said Randall Hoth, president/CEO of the Wisconsin BBB.

Hoth added that it’s a huge “red flag” that the scam company is requiring its customers to wire money to evaluate retail services. “Never wire money to a company,” he said. “Paying by credit card offers you protection if you never receive the product. In this case, the company is asking you to wire your own funds to evaluate a service, which is disconcerting in itself.”

The Wisconsin BBB has received numerous complaints against the scam company thus far. As the economy grows more desperate, and consumers become eager to supplement their incomes, the Wisconsin BBB believes it will receive many more complaints.

If a letter and check from this company arrive under the guise of Manpower, Inc. correspondence, proceed with extreme caution. If the check is counterfeit the recipient will not receive the funds, will owe the bank the amount withdrawn, and will not be able to recover lost funds. The individual may even suffer damage to his or her credit rating in addition to losing money.  Always check the company’s report with the BBB. In this case, the BBB report contained a warning pertaining to this very scam. If you receive a check with instructions for deposit, call the issuing bank to ensure the check is legit.

Manpower, Inc. has no association with these mailings. As such, all complaints should be submitted to the BBB at www.bbb.org.

For further inquiries or more information on counterfeit check scams, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), (920)-734-4352 (Appleton) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).