Here's What A Mystery Shopper Scam Looks Like

Want to see what a secret shopper scam actually looks like? Tracey sent us scans of the one that arrived in her mailbox today. It included a letter printed on cut-and-paste letterhead, a form, and a check for $4,200. The idea behind this sort of scam—also called an advance fee fraud or wire transfer scam—is to get the victim to deposit the check, wait for it to clear, then wire back the bulk of the money. Weeks or months later, the check will turn out to be fake, and by law the victim owes the bank for the full amount of the check.

As much as we talk about this sort of thing on Consumerist, people still fall for it all the time. Make sure your friends and family know how the mystery shopper scam works so they can protect themselves from it.

My partner received something very interesting from Canada in the mail today. It was a letter from “Experian Consumer Research Group” indicating that she’d shown an interest in being a “mystery shopper.” The envelope also contained a realistic-looking check for $4,200. What was she supposed to do with that? Well, $400 was “Probation training first week pay.” Other amounts were for mystery shopping at Wal-Mart, Sears and McDonald’s. The biggest amount was $3,620 for “Money Gram including service fees.” Yep, a wire transfer scam.

Googling the toll-free number in the letter brings up several sites where other people have gotten letters with other cover stories.

I’ve attached a PDF of everything but the check. I would imagine that Experian, BBB, JPMorgan Chase and other companies referenced in this scam would like to get a piece of these guys. We also got quite a chuckle out of the “Fraud – Prevent It!” postmark in two languages.

Just thought your readers might find this interesting. We’ll be turning our stuff over to our state attorney general’s office.

View the full-size scans here (pdf).

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