Avoiding Mystery Shopper Scams

From the Odessa Police Department:

Nationwide and locally, there has been a surge in the mystery shopping scam. The scam consists of mailing fake checks to potential victims who attempt to cash them.

The checks received range from $3,800-4,200, and misuse the address and routing number of legitimate business profiles that are in no way affiliated with these scams and are actual victims.

The enclosed checks "are required funds to cover your assignments" to shop a variety of stores" including Best Buy, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc. Be aware that all information you are considering in these mailings is being made up and is not a legitimate job offer to become a mystery or secret shopper.

It is an attempt to launder fake checks using you as a pawn. If you attempt to cash the check, when the bank finds the checks are fake, you will be 100% liable for any of the funds you spend.

The Better Business Bureau offer tips to help you avoid being swindled by fake check scams:

  • Be suspicious of any check from an individual or business that you do not know.
  • Independently verify that the check is drawn from an actual account at a legitimate financial institution.
  • Do not rely on the telephone number listed on the check. Use directory assistance to get the telephone number of the financial institution and call them to verify the check.
  • When a company claims to be a "Secret Shopper", like Master Research, check with the Mystery Shopper Provider Association at www.mysteryshop.org to learn more about Mystery Shopping and to confirm the legitimacy of a company.
  • Do not rely on the money until the funds have been finally collected by your financial institution. Funds ‘available' is not good enough.

Beware of any and all scams, especially during the holidays, if it looks or sound to good to be true...it may be a scam.