Connecticut BBB Warns about Methods Used by Dishonest Companies Seeking to Rip-off Consumers
Wallingford, CT – February 9, 2009 – A New Haven man was suspicious when he received a cashier’s check for $2,900 in the mail as an incentive to become a “mystery shopper,” earning money by purchasing items at various stores and dining at different restaurants.
All he had to do was deposit the check and wire a total of $2,560 by Western Union and MoneyGram back to the company, Washington-based Extreme Secret Shopper.
Suspicious of the scheme, instead of depositing the check, he contacted Connecticut Better Business Bureau to report the scam.
The company operates www.extremesecretshsopper.com which, on its home page, explains secret shoppers get “…paid by well known companies to evaluate their establishments…to improve their customer service.” A testimonial on the same web page, states “I regularly eat at popular restaurants, shop at well known department stores, go to the movies, buy my groceries, and I have even taken my entire family to Disneyland...all for FREE!.”
CT Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, warns Connecticut consumers that similar complaints about “mystery shopper” schemes have been turning up across the country.
“There are legitimate mystery shopper jobs available, however in the case of a phony offer, typically the cashier’s checks are fake, the consumer loses any money wired to a sham company and ultimately the victim is also liable for bank charges when the fake checks bounce.”
So how can you tell if a secret shopper opportunity is legitimate?
Consumers should steer clear of any “guarantee” of a job as a mystery, investigative or secret shopper, as well as any company that demands a fee to obtain job information or apply for a position or requires the deposit of a check with an accompanying request to send money back by wire transfer.
Cashier’s Check Scams:
Do not trust a cashier’s check from someone you don’t know
- There is no above-board reason for someone who is giving you a check to ask for money to be wired to a third party.
Finally, the fact that your financial institution will accept a check for deposit from an unscrupulous company does not mean the check is legitimate. It may take a week or longer for a counterfeit check to bounce, and consumers are responsible for the money and any other bank charges.
If you are considering an offer to become a secret shopper, ensure the company is established nearby and not located in another country, and check the name of any mystery shopper companies at www.bbb.org.