Secret Shopper Scams and Re-Victimization Scams on the rise.

For Immediate Release
 
The current economic situation is causing a strain on many people, and scammers are cashing in on it.  There has been an increase in Secret Shopper Scams and Re-Victimization Scams in recent months. 
 
Unsuspecting people answer ads placed online for Secret Shoppers or Mystery Shoppers, thinking that this will be a great way for them to earn some extra income to help make ends meet.  They are sent official looking letters and forms, and instructed that they will be sent a Cashier’s Check or Money Order by the company that they are working for, and they will use that money in their Secret Shopping Assignments.  The check arrives, they bring it to the bank and soon they are told that the check has cleared, so they proceed forward with their given assignments.  Usually, they are told to go to several different Western Union, Money Gram, or other money wiring locations.  Once they have wired the money they fill out an evaluation of the customer service at the location, and send it in and wait for their next assignment.
 
The problem comes in about a week, when their bank contacts them to let them know that the check was counterfeit.  The bank then deducts the amount of the check, sometimes for several thousands of dollars, from their bank account.  This leaves the person that was already feeling the strain of the current economic situation in an even tighter spot.  There are some people who end up with negative bank accounts.
 
The other scam on the rise is the Re-Victimization scam, in which the scammer sends a letter saying that they are working with a very official sounding agency, like The Fraud Alert Investigation Agency (FAIA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  They explain that they are assisting scam victims in recovering the money that they have lost.  Many of the emails and letters will even claim that they are working in efforts with agencies like the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the National White Collar Crime Center, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and most recently our own site, ScamVictimsUnited.com, has been included on this list.  Scam victims who are desperate to try to recover any of the money that they have lost may contact these people.  They may as for lawyers fees to be paid to recover the money, or ask for the victims’s bank account information so that they can deposit the recovered money directly.  Both of these are ploys to deceive the victim and drain them of even more money.
 
To protect yourself from these scams, do not accept any jobs posted online where you do not interview with someone in person before acquiring the job, and do not reply to any emails in which someone tells you that they can help you to recover lost money.  Another good safety procedure it to do a search on the name of the person who contacts you, the company that they are claiming to be with, their phone number or email address.
 
Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com

Check out our blog at
https://scamvictimsunited.wordpress.com
There is strength in numbers!

Scams and the Holiday Season

I saw this article today, http://www.kpcnews.com/articles/2008/11/30/features/columnists/cindy_bevington/hid116445sect_a85973188b5d8586bf.txt

and I just wanted to say that it is so sad that every year at this time we seem to see a rise in the number of people who become victims of scams.  People are looking for ways to make a few extra dollars so that they can have a happy hoilday season.  Many of them decide to sell something they own to bring in the extra cash . . . and then the scammers come along and the next thing they know they are even MORE strapped for money!  I wish I could just tell the scammers to give us all a break and take a couple of months off of work and let people just enjoy the holidays.

Secret Shopper Scams

I have talked to a lot of people over the years that have become victims of this scam, and I recently had a brush with it personally. 

I have been looking for a new job, so my information is out there on a lot of the resume posting sites, and I am guessing that is where the scammers found me.  I got a letter in the mail, along with a check for $500.  Basically, the letter told me that I had gotten a position as a secret shopper/customer service evaluator.  I was to take the check enclosed and cash it, keep $100 for my payment for the work I am doing, and then take the rest of the money and go to a Money Gram location and wire it to Ontario, Canada.  After that, I was to fill out the survey questions and fax that in to show that I have completed my assignment.

Obviously I did not do any of this.  Because I have heard of this scam, and worked with victims of it at ScamVictimsUnited.com I knew that the check was counterfeit, and if I did cash it and wire the money off, in a few days the bank would come back to me looking for me to refund the money.

With times being tough right now, and the holidays just around the corner, I could see how some people would fall for this even though all of the warning signs are there . . . a letter from a company I have never heard of before, a check that I did not know was coming to me, the letterhead says the company is in New York, the check is from a bank in Minnesota and the postmark on the letter is from Canada, I am supposed to complete the entire thing in 48 hours (they always want you to work fast so that you wire off the money before you have time to realize the check is fake).

I even went as far as to google the name of the company on the letterhead, and it turns out that they are aware of this scam and they have posted a warning on thier website.  http://surveyclub.com/e/ScamAlert.aspx

Be careful!

Secret Shopper Scam Letter