SCAM ALERT - Mystery Shoppers

Posted by Jeremy Wascak July 18, 2019 Categories: Avoiding Scams Security Shopping

“Mystery Shopper” Scams are increasing in frequency – Do you know how to spot a scam?

Towpath Credit Union has noticed an increase of Mystery Shopper Scams in recent weeks. While it may seem like an easy opportunity to make a profit, it’s probably a scheme to steal from you. 

Here's how it works:

The scammers will send you a large sum of money with instructions on your “assignment” as a mystery shopper. After you deposit the check into your account and the funds become available, part of your “assignment” is to send some money back (in the form of wire transfers, gift cards, etc.) and the rest of the money is for you to keep. Here’s the catch. The check (or money order or cashier’s check) is fake, and the funds you thought were deposited into your account will soon disappear. By the time you realize what happened, the funds will be long gone and you’ll be on the hook for all of the money you spent.

As a general rule, if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is. If you’re not sure of the legitimacy of a job offer or opportunity, ask your friends and family, research it online, and check with your financial institution to verify the check before you spend or transfer the funds. 

Things to keep in mind:

  • These scams usually include legitimate-looking paperwork, such as instructions explaining your “assignment”
  • Communication that contains grammatical errors, nonsensical sentences, or a sense of urgency are red flags indicating something is not legitimate
  • Funds can come in the form of a check, money order, cashier’s check, or even through online payment systems (like Vemno)
  • Sometimes the opportunity comes through a link in your email, also known as a phishing attack
  • Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities do not require you to pay a fee or purchase a certification to participate

The Takeaway:

If anyone sends you money and asks you to send some of it back (in any form), it’s almost always a scam.

Learn more about Mystery Shopper Scams and more at: http://ftc.gov/scams

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