Here’s one more reason to avoid mystery shopping scams: you could be the one who ends up in jail. A woman in Minnesota answered a “mystery shopper” email (that she found in her spam folder, sigh) and signed up. It turned out to be the old check fraud scam—they sent her a $2700 check and told her to deposit it and keep $300 a payment, then use the rest to make mystery shopper purchases. She took the check to her bank, and her bank called the police.
Here’s a grim economics lesson: In Alabama, there’s a law that allows the Sheriff to keep any money that’s left over after feeding the prisoners in the county jail. Can you guess what the result of this conflict of interest might be?