During these tough economic times, everyone seems to be looking for an edge. Escalating prices have weakened the scale of retirement savings and placed a crunch on household budgets. Many are looking for part-time work to somewhat offset rising costs.
An enticing lure is the opportunity to become a ‘Secret Shopper.’ The opportunity boasts that an ‘employee’ is hired to visit a retail store, buy a few items, and then turn in an evaluation of the customer experience. The hours are flexible; one can work as much or little as desired; and the pay is remarkable for the time spent ‘on the job.’ Additionally, one may keep the items purchased during the ‘shopping experience.’ The offers are posted in local newspapers and via Internet communications and Websites. While such a legitimate service may exist, most are a scam.
Shortly after signing up to become a ‘Secret Shopper,’ an assignment arrives along with a check. The first assignment, which must be completed within 48 hours, goes something like this:
1) Deposit the enclosed check for $4900 at your bank;
2) Go to Walmart, spend $100 (and keep what you buy), and make an evaluation of the service; keep $100 for making your evaluation;
3) Go to Money Gram and send $4200 to another ‘Secret Shopper’ associate (forwarding information given) and evaluate the service at Money Gram; keep $200 for making your evaluation;
4) Keep $300 as your probationary income.
The check is bogus. The check will bounce. Any amount sent via Money Gram may never be recovered.
· If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is;
· Check out the legitimacy of a business by calling the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org or 303-758-2100) or the office of the Secretary of State (303-894-2200);
· Call the District Attorney’s Fraud Hotline (303-271-6980) to inquire whether the offer might be a scam. We are happy to research an offer.
· Never cash a check that has been sent without due reason; remember that once money is sent via a wire transfer, it is most likely irretrievable;
· Remember that even in today’s sophisticated electronic world it may take checks 7-10 days to clear; if a check is bogus, it will be returned after 7-10 days;
· Many of the checks have a business heading with no relationship to the ‘Secret Shopper’ organization. For example, the ‘Secret Shopper’ organization posts a New York address and the check may be drawn on an unrelated business in Georgia.
Source: District Attorney Scott Storey, Office of Jefferson/Gilpin Counties, Colorado