Fremont Police have investigated a number of cases recently where victims thought they took legitimate jobs as a MYSTERY SHOPPER from offers to work at home. The victims received a letter and an “Official Check” from their new “employer” and were directed to deposit the check into their own account. The victims received text and email instructions to buy gift cards at local stores with the funds they received in the check. Then, the victims were told to provide the secret numbers/PIN from the back of the cards to the “employer” and write a short report regarding their customer experience. The victims later learned the “employer’s” checks bounced because they were counterfeit, and the deposited funds were deducted from the victims’ accounts. Financial loss was in the thousands of dollars to the victims.
Before you jump into your new prospective work-from-home job, take some time to see if it’s real.
Here are a few ways to spot and avoid mystery shopping scams:
- Do an Internet search the company with the words “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”
- Remember: Honest companies pay you to work for them, not charge you. If the company asks you to pay upfront to get the opportunity, walk away. No real job opportunity, including mystery shopping, involves paying for the job.
- Don’t pay companies for “certifications,” directories or job “guarantees,” all of which are usually worthless. Companies asking you to pay for such things are likely scammers.
- If you’re asked to deposit checks into your bank account and send money back to pay for courses, fees or anything else, stop. This is a fake check scam. When the check bounces, you’ll be out of the money you sent and may have to pay more to the bank.
- Never wire money or buy gift cards for a mystery shopping assignment or any job opportunity. Those are sure signs of a scam.
Report Mystery Shopper Scams
If you’re looking for legitimate mystery shopping jobs, check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Associationfor a database of authentic companies. But if you spot any scams, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint, and the FBI’S Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Visit the FTC’s website for even more information about scams, fraud and ways to protect yourself and your family.