Mystery Shopper Warning from FBI

Mystery Shopping Warning Issued by the FBI

Mystery shopping is on the FBI’s latest hit list. They issued a stern warning today (January 20, 2009) to be on the lookout for unsolicited emails and snail mails inviting mystery shoppers.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the mystery shopping scam goes like this:

You receive an email or snail mail inviting you to be a mystery shopper. You’re are asked to send a resume and are purportedly subject to an extensive background check before being accepted as a mystery shopper. You are sent a check with instructions to shop at a specified retailer for a specific length of time and spend a specific amount on merchandise from the store. You receive instructions to take note of the store’s environment, color, payment procedures, gift items, and shopping/carrier bags and report back to the employer. The second evaluation is the ease and accuracy of wiring money from the retail location. The money to be wired is also included in the check sent to the you. The remaining balance is the your payment for the completion of the assignment. After merchandise is purchased and money is wired, you are advised by the bank the check cashed was counterfeit, and you are responsible for the money lost in addition to bank fees incurred.

In other versions of the scheme, you are requested to provide bank account information to have money directly deposited into you accounts. The scammer then has acquired access to your accounts and can withdraw money and steal your identity.

Read more about how to sniff out these and other internet and home-based job scams on the FBI’s IC3 website.

If you’ve been a victim of a mystery shopper or other home based job scam, please share your story in the comments here. Your experience may save others from the agony!

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