Mystery shopping is fun and legitimate. And, just as in most legitimate businesses, someone has decided to create a scam out of it by taking advantage of mystery shoppers.
If you have received a check or money order through the mail with instructions to deposit the check and then wire a sum of money to someone as part of a mystery shop, it is a SCAM! It is ALWAYS a scam! Mystery shopping companies DO NOT mail you a check and then ask for money back!
What happens in this scam is that the check, money order, wire gram or whatever you receive is no good. So you will be sending someone money that you don’t have. Then you will be responsible for paying the money back to your bank. Sometimes you will be prosecuted for passing bad checks!
If you receive a check, money gram, money order or anything else with instructions to deposit it, wire some of money to someone else and then keep the remainder of the money as your fee, IT IS AWAYS A SCAM! Don’t be fooled, no matter how big the money is!
Another scam to watch out for is receiving e-mails that offer extremely high payment for an easy assignment. Mystery shopping companies are in the business of making money and don’t usually hand our large sums of money for fees. If you receive an e-mail and are unsure that it is legitimate because of the large fee involved, contact the mystery shopping company directly THROUGH THEIR WEBSITE! DO NOT use the website that was sent by e-mail!
Some red flags to watch out for:
Whenever you are asked to put out a lot of your own money up-front. Some mystery shopping assignments will require you to pay your expenses up-front and then get reimbursed when you are paid. These up-front expenses are usually small amounts and you usually to get keep what you bought. However, if you are asked to put out a large sum of money and then asked to ship the merchandise that you purchased to someone before getting paid, you are most likely dealing with a scammer! NEVER put out more money than you can afford to lose if you do get scammed or if your job is rejected for some reason.
Don’t get fooled by a scam e-mail. There are some scammers who will use real mystery shopping company names and offer you a large amount of money to do a shop. If you receive an e-mail from a company and the fee seems too good to be true, it probably is! DON’T reply to the e-mail. Look up the mystery shopping company on-line and call your scheduler to find out whether they really sent you the e-mail. If it is legitimate, get some kind of confirmation in writing about the fee that you will be receiving before doing the job.
If you are contacted by a fraudulent mystery shop company, contact one or all of the following:
- Your local police department. Ask for the cyber crimes department or an investigator;
- The FBI. Go to: http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx;
iii. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm call 1-202-326-2222, or write to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580;
- The e-mail provider such as AOL, Google, Yahoo or MSN. Go to the “contact us” page to file a complaint. Remember to provide accurate information about the person or persons perpetuating the fraud so that the authorities can assist you in stopping the activity;
- Visit the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association website at www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities.
Mystery shopping is NOT get rich quick – it is legitimate work, and you should be paid a fair wage for fair work. If you have any doubt or something doesn’t feel right, RUN AWAY! You could be saving yourself thousands of dollars!