What's the Mystery in this Shopping Spree?
An invitation to earn a living while shopping sounds very enticing, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this old scam has resurfaced just in time for the holiday season causing some residents to reach out to the Sheriff’s Office fraud line to report the mystery con job.
While it is true that some retailers hire companies to evaluate the quality of service in their stores utilizing a legitimate “mystery shopper”, there are red flags you need to be aware of should you choose to do a little retail therapy.
One caller reported to the fraud line that a con artist contacted her immediately after she applied for a job online via an employment-related search engine. She then began receiving text messages regarding her first assignment, followed by a package that arrived to her home containing a cashier’s check and instructions to deposit the check and wire transfer money as part of her mystery-shopping job. This request raised a red flag, and fortunately for our caller, she immediately realized this was an attempt to scam her.
Here is what you should know about becoming a mystery shopper. It does not cost anything. In fact, you can search a database of shopping assignments through a legitimate secret shopper company by visiting the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) at mysteryshop.org.
You can avoid becoming a victim by never doing business with someone who:
- Requires you pay a certification fee
- Charges a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities
- Asks you to deposit a check and wire some or all of the money as part of your duties
- Isn’t part of the MSPA