More on Secret Shopper Scams

For a listing of legitimate Secret Shopper companies, go to http://www.mysteryshop.org/

We have spoken with representatives at both Western Union and Money Gram. Money Gram does NOT use Secret Shoppers as a normal business practice. Western Union does use Secret Shoppers, but the shoppers are NEVER paid by cashier’s check or money order. If you have been contacted to shop Western Union or Money Gram, and it involves you receiving a cashier’s check or money order, IT IS A SCAM.

Often, the email address used by the representative of the company “hiring” you will be coming from a generic email address, and not one associated with that company. For further assurance, search out that company on your own and contact them for verification.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Secret Shopper Scams

Many news reports are referring to this as the “newest” scam variation, but we have been seeing reports of these scams on our message board since 2005. The job description can be Secret Shopper, Mystery Shopper or Customer Service Evaluator, but it is all the same scam.The scammer will either place an ad in a legitimate classified listing, online or in print, or they will collect their victim’s names and email addresses off of resumes posted online. Some of them are even making “copy cat” websites of legitimate Secret Shopper companies to use in their scam to help convince the victim that this is all legitimate. For a listing of legitimate Secret Shopper companies, go to http://www.mysteryshop.org/

The victim will be told that they have been hired as a Secret Shopper and will be sent a cashier’s check or money order to cash and use on their assignments. One of the assignments is to review the service at a Western Union or Money Gram location. They are given a name and address to wire money to, from the check that was sent to them, and told to fill out an evaluation form on the service received and email or fax that back to the company they are working for. Everything seems fine, and some victims may even complete a few “assignments” before the check is discovered to be counterfeit. On average, it takes about 10 business days for the bank to realize that the check is counterfeit, but we have seen some cases where it has taken over 6 months. Once the bank dose find that the check is counterfeit, they will contact you demanding the return of the money and deduct the full amount of the check from your bank account. This sometimes leaves the victims with negative bank accounts.For more information on the check clearing process and the banking terms, please read http://scamvictimsunited.blogspot.com/2009/08/banking-terms-not-as-clear-as-they.html

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Looking for Victims

I am working with a consumer advocacy group and they are looking for recent victims who are willing to talk to the press and have compelling stories to tell – people who lost money, especially in the lottery/sweepstakes, grants, and work-at-home variations of fake check scams.

This could turn into somethng VERY big that would help MANY others from becoming scam victims.

Would you be willing to speak with them?   If so, contact me and I would be more than happy to share more details on this with you.

Chris Hanson and Dateline take on Secret Shopper and Work at Home Scams

I have only watched a portion of this segment, but I had to post it right away.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30070044#30070115

Internet Crime On The Rise

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released it’s 2008 Internet Crime Report today.  You can view report in full by going to http://www.fbi.gov/page2/march09/internet_033009.html

There was a 33% increase in complaints in 2008 over 2007, with an increase of $25 million lost.  Just think, if more could have been done to educate people about scams and warn them before they became victims, that is money that those people would still have in their pockets.

With the economy in the state that it is, we need to do EVERYTHING we can to protect the money that we have.  One way to do that would be to increase scam awareness with signs in the post offices, banks, Western Union and MoneyGram locations.  PSA would also do a lot to get the word out to the masses.

Do Not Engage Mystery Shopper Scammers

Recent article on scams

I recently read an article on scams . . . It’s a new year, but the same old scams . . . which can be found here, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28435684/

I totally agree with the author, Herb Weisbaum, that scams will continue to hurt the American financial situation in 2009.  With so many people being laid-off or working harder to just get by, when the check comes in the mail and you are told you have won the lottery, or have been accepted for a new position with an overseas company, sometimes the red flags don’t go up quite as fast as they should.

The work-at-home and secret shopper scams are the ones that I believe will have the largest increase in them.  So many people are out there now a days looking for some way to make some extra money.  If there are no companies that are hiring in your area, the next best thing sounds like a work-at-home job where you can sit in pj’s and work on your own time from your computer and make money.  If only it were that easy.

And the secret shopper scams are growing too.  The one I see the most is the one that says you are being hired to evaluate a money wiring service, such as Western Union or Money Gram.  The company that you are working for will send you a check for you to cash . . . you will need to have cash to wire if you are going to evaluate their customer service skills, right . . . so it makes sense in that respect.  People have said that they are given forms that look legitimate to fill out and review the services.  It is not until you have wired the money and are waiting for your next assignment that you will find out that the check that you cashed to get the money to wire is counterfeit, and then the bank will hold you liable for the entire amount.  Now, a person who was already tight on money and looking for extra work to try and make ends meet is really in trouble because they could be out thousands of dollars.

There needs to be a raised awareness about these scams, or 2009 will be an even harder year for the people who fall victim to the scammers trap.

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