Sacramento, Ca., - July 10, 2012 – Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to think twice before accepting mystery shopping job offers after several consumers across the region have contacted BBB to report fraudulent checks received through the mail.
A Lincoln woman recently received an employment offer from a supposed corporation in Woodbridge, NJ. The letter came with a $4,285 check to complete a mystery shopping assignment.
“The letter instructed me to deposit the check in my bank account and spend $150 at a large store to evaluate the store’s service,” said the consumer. “Then, I was supposed to mystery shop a Western Union by wiring $3,260.”
Consumers who have followed through in the offers report that after depositing the check and wiring the money, their banks later identify the checks as fraudulent. They are then stuck with returned check fees and are required to pay back the money they wired.
In some cases, the checks may be real, but the consumer may be pulled into a money mule operation in which they are used to transfer illegal funds. Legal ramifications can exist for people involved in money mule operations, even if they unknowingly participate.
“Never wire money to someone you do not personally know,” said Cailin Peterson, spokesperson for BBB serving Northeast California. “Our experience is that the checks are altered and you may be liable for the initial deposit and wired funds.”
The Lincoln woman claimed the check sent to her looked legitimate, coming from a bank in New York with two signatures and security features. When she noticed the stamp on the envelope was from Canada, she began to think twice about the offer. “I knew this couldn’t be real,” she said.
Consumers interested in legitimate mystery shopping job opportunities should consider the following:
• Be suspicious of jobs that require wiring money. Never wire money to someone you have not had personal contact with.
Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website at www.mystershop.org/shoppers
for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies.
• If a check seems questionable, request a bank employee evaluate the check before depositing it in an account.
If money has already been wired, contact the money transfer company to ask that the wire be reversed. Contact Moneygram
at 1-800-MONEYGRAM and Western Union
Contact: Cailin Peterson - 916-443-6843
As a business-supported nonprofit organization, Better Business Bureau's mission is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBB sets standards for ethical business behavior, helps consumer identify reliable businesses through BBB Business Reviews, sets standards for truthful advertising, evaluates and provides reviews of charities, educates consumers, and offers dispute resolution services. More than 87 million consumers rely on BBB for Business Reviews, consumer tips and scam alerts. To learn more, please visit www.necal.bbb.org.