Thursday, June 29, 2006

Secret Shopper Scam Targets Walmart, Again

Back in November, I did a post on a Secret Shopper (advance fee) scam -- where people were solicited to act as Secret (Mystery) Shoppers -- and cash a large check at Walmart as part of their "paid" shopping assignment. They are then provided with a large dollar counterfeit cashiers check and instructed to cash it at Walmart. The second part of their assignment (if they get past the Walmart employee) is to wire the money to Canada via MoneyGram.

Of course, for their hard work they are instructed to keep a "generous" commission for themselves. And after the check returns, they are left with the responsibility of dealing with the consequences.

This scam seemed to die out for a few months, but is again raising it's "ugly head." I've received several reports -- by my readers and other sources -- that they are again being solicited to perform these so-called shopping assignments. The current scams seemed to be based out of Canada, which is where the original ones were based, also.

Walmart is known to take a tough stance on check fraud and makes use of local District Attorney programs as part of their "collection" efforts. This normally means -- if you fall for one of these scams and Walmart cashes the check -- failure to pay them back could mean criminal prosecution. Since the person cashing the check is responsible for the full amount cashed, the "generous commission" isn't a very good deal.

Of course, they might also call the authorities while someone is in their establishment passing a counterfeit check.

So far as the "Walmart connection," these scams all mutate and instructions to "shop" other establishments (although not seen yet) could be a future development. Only the result will remain the same, which is the person cashing the check will ultimately be held responsible. The best protection any of us have is to recognize the scam and ALWAYS remember that anything too good to be true, often IS NOT.

Here is the previous post, I wrote in November:

Secret Shoppers Scammed

If you want to report one of these scams, a good place to do so is:

Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI)

And Canada (where most of this seems to come from) has a site of their own to report activity:

Phonebusters

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

My co-worker got this letter also 1-877-225-3908 and a person of african origin answered. I googled it before he fell prey. I may call it and tell them that I need to keep him on the line long enough for a FBI trace just to play a game on them.
Robel MN

Mari said...

On Monday, May 12, 2008. At 4:40 PM I received an unknown phone call on my cell phone and the man on the other line stated that he received a letter posted marked from Baltimore, MD, with no return address, enclosed with a $3,940.00 check from Force Financial @ 3817 A Chainbridge Road, Fairfax, VA, issued by Suntrust Bank; the phone number that he dialed was 1-877-225-3908, but somehow all these calls were being routed to my personal cell phone number.

I received a total of 19 phone calls between 4:40 pm through 8:24 pm. Each person that dialed 1-877-225-3908 were all routed to my cell phone. They all stated they received a letter regarding some type of advanced evaluation/secret shopper info. attached with a $3,940.00 check.

Some of the callers also stated that there was a Human Resource phone number on the letter; 519-957-2272, along with a Martin Hall and Mr. Young's name on it.

I spent the entire evening trying to rectify the problem by contacting my cell phone service provider fraud dept. as well as calling the toll free operator to prevent further calls to my personal line.

I tried calling the 877-225-3908 number myself. First my cell phone rang but when I tried again I got through to a Marketing Service and spoke with a John Davis who claimed to be based in Chicago. I cautiously explained the situation to him but he simply stated that there was nothing that he could do.

I advised everyone that called me not to cash those checks and to file a police report as well as file a fraud complaint with the FTC, FCC and BBB.

Mari said...

I continued to receive 15 more calls to my cell phone on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 btw 9:04a-6:37p despite contacting my service provider last evening, who assured me that the situation had been rectified.

Also in my previous comment I mentioned a 519-957-2272 number; well, I searched it on www.whitepages.com and the results were as follows;Type:Land Line Provider: GT Group Telecom Services Corp. Location: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Another caller stated there was a 1-866-205-9343 number on his letter, where an automated voice told him to enter a PIN number.

Finally, I contacted the Better Business Bureau which directed me to the New York Attorney General Fraud Dept. I also contacted Crime Stoppers, Phone Busters and spoke with local detectives and a Lieutenant from the Special Fraud Identity Theft Headquarters in NYC.

Again, I advised everyone that called me today not to cash those counterfeit checks and to file a police report as well as file a fraud complaint with the FTC, FCC and BBB.

Most importantly contact www.phonebusters.com (1-888-495-8501) since they're based in Canada where most of this secret shopper scam is stemming from & their main objective is to target residents from the United States.

I have to agree that the best protection for everyone is to recognize the scam and ALWAYS remember that anything too good to be true, often IS NOT.

It all boils down to using our common sense.

Mari said...

Update:

Early this afternoon I spoke with someone from phonebusters and I was advised if I receive any more phone calls from the people who have received these letters with the counterfeit checks NOT to destroy them but to call phonebusters(1-888-495-8501) immediately for assistance.

Again, I urge everyone, please & most importantly contact www.phonebusters.com (1-888-495-8501) since they're based in Canada where most of this secret shopper scam is stemming from. The culprits main objective is to target residents from the United States.

If our government cannot protect our identity or protect us from fraud, who else will? We must advocate for ourselves and network with organizations that can assist us to continue to create laws to protect us and to stop the culprits targeting us.

If you think issues like these do not effect you, think again.

Matt said...

May 15, 2008

I mentioned the date on my comment because as I read this blog I noticed that it's dated June 29, 2006. I'm VERY unpleased to say that this is still happening 2 years later. I recieved a letter in the mail yesturday and called this number "1-877-225-3908" this morning. I spoke to a man with an unfamiliar accent, he never asked for any personal information except my birthdate. He then explained the letter to me in detail. I thought the money on the check seemed questionable; "to good to be true" as others have said.

The check that I recieved with the letter is for $3,940.00. It is a Suntrust Bank check from Force Financial in Fairfax, VA.

money issued is as follows:
Training pay + expences = $480.00
Wal-mart purchase = $100.00
Money-Gram transaction =$3225.00
Money-Gram Serv. charge = $135.00
Total =$3940.00

It's scarey how well the man on the phone sells this scam. talking about the next job and the next job. Asked me if I had a drivers license, if so they would sign me up to test drive a car for my next job and survey the people that sell them. he had the whole speech down. Although; the promis of more money threw me. $480 to buy something at wal-mart, and as he said the next job could offer $650 some jobs offer $1600. the promise of that much money from people that you have never met should make anyone want to research what they are getting into. So i googled the company name "Force Financial". and found this blog.

Thank you to those who created this blog. without it I would probably be at Wal-Mart right now getting arrested. Its just too bad that this continues to haunt people like you and I.

THANK YOU.

Mari said...

I have to agree with Matt...now 2 years later, these scams, this one in particular (the secret shopper scam) are accelerating at an alarming rate. According to www.phonebusters.com once the culprits know officials have a lead on them either they relocate, quite down then resurface within 2 weeks.

We can't even go to a bank and cash a legitimate check without showing proper id or go to the airport without having to remove our shoes, so how is it that these people have access to our names, phone numbers and mailing addresses and set up shop the way that they do? It seems to me as though not enough effort is put into catching these culprits because their scamming doesn't seem to stop.

I understand issues like these have been going on for the past 40 years and as technology advances so does fraud. It becomes, more intricate, more detailed and almost believable.

Basically, we have to be skeptical about everything. Constantly keep your senses continue to be aware of your surroundings and if you become a possible target of a fraud/scam. DO NOT ignore it or become prey to it but do the RESPONSIBLE thing and inform as many authorities as possible, even contact the media & radio broadcasters and please call (1-888-495-8501) phonebusters.

My father always used to say, "one hand washes the other and they both wash the face" We need to look out for one another, continue to work together and display the quality of humility by showing love and concern towards all of our neighbors.

I also want to thank Ed Dickson and the rest of the folks that put this site together as well as everyone sharing their comments/blogs.

May 15, 2008: 12:57pm EST

Ed Dickson said...

I agree with Matt - it's amazing that the scam goes on. And thanks to the people, who comment (share) and keep the counter effort, alive!

Anonymous said...

I got one on friday that was for a money gram location to send a big some of money out through a money gram. I also needed to go to macy's which wasn't soo bad but yeah the money gram totally came up to me as a major red flag!!

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone!!! Its 2009 and I just want you all to know I almost fell for this scam just last week. I found the secret shopper ad on CRAIGSLIST and came so close to cashing a fake $3750 check! Everything seemed legitimate up until I learned I had to cash the check through my bank and Moneygram the amount to a sranger. I am so glad I figured it out in time. Please be careful when answering Craigslist ads.

Anonymous said...

February 13, 2009 - It's baaaaack. Received a very official snail mail, postmarked Canada from Secret Shoppers in Dallas, TX requesting assistance evaluating Wal-Mart's MoneyGram. Glad I checked first.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me...thank goodness i didn't fall for it. I received a $3,300 check in the mail. We need to continue to get the word out bc I had never heard of this before and almost fell for it!

Anonymous said...

I also got a check for 1550. they wanted to cash it and than keep 200 dollars for myself. I knew it was a fraud than. why would someone want me to get a money gram and send the money to them just for taking a survey. So I took it to my local bank, they called the bank and they said it was a real check but still need to do investication. The reason I took the check there is because maybe they can see the letter and find out who is doing these scams. I will post later when ever I find out what the bank find out.

Anonymous said...

I recieved a mail to be a Mystery Shopper for a company know as Job Solutions. Address: 620 Mendelssohn Ave N Suite 190 Minneapolis, MN 55427 -431, Tel 1-888-314-3212. I called the number and asked what the nature of the job is all about.The guy i spoke with does not know much about Mystery Shopping, as a Market Research Analyst, i had to start to educate him on the survey instrument( Questionnaire), that i was not well done and that the information gotten would be biased. After talking with him,i felt that it was too good to be true. The casher's check i got is $3,975.
I have reported the fruad. Thank you for this blog.

Anonymous said...

I recieved a mail to be a Mystery Shopper for a company know as Job Solutions. Address: 620 Mendelssohn Ave N Suite 190 Minneapolis, MN 55427 -431, Tel 1-888-314-3212. I called the number and asked what the nature of the job is all about.The guy i spoke with does not know much about Mystery Shopping, as a Market Research Analyst, i had to start to educate him on the survey instrument( Questionnaire), that i was not well done and that the information gotten would be biased. After talking with him,i felt that it was too good to be true. The casher's check i got is $3,975.
I have reported the fruad. Thank you for this blog.

Gina said...

I receive this letter int he mail staing I had shown an intrest in a home-based business and this was my oppurtunity to become a mystery shopper. It gave the assingment to spend $100 in Wlamart, K-Mart, homedepot Sears, JCpenny and best buy. then evaluate them using the survey on the back of this letter. Part 2 of this assignment was to send $3,180 to a fake person in Canada using Moneygram or Western Union.
I thought it was strange becasue I didn't contact this company. And the company letter head was: beverage Management Inc. 400 N Wolf Rd, Suite A, Northlake, Il 60164 but images next to it was a Cadillac logo and Chevrolet. I thought, why is a beverage company secret shopping theses stores? Why is there car logos next to it? and why didn't they tell meto purchase a particular item.
The envelope itself had no return address. But there is a contact person and fax for you to fax the completed survey with the wire transaction number on it. So I looked it up.
they send a check too. The check has the beverage info and aAmerican Bottling Company logo on it. In the letter they brake down all the fees too.
Well ofcourse I try the number first and get a recording telling me that 514-649-2918 mailbox is full. I google the area codes and find it's in Canada but the addresses are for IL. So I come here to fraudwar.blogspot.com qnd find that my suspitions are correct. thank you

Anonymous said...

I have almost feel victim to this scam as well. I received and email stating that I had showed interest in becoming a Mystery Shopper. Then I received this package from Fed-Ex and inside was no letter, gut 2 MoneyGram Money Orders both for $950 totallng $1900. I too was suppose to go to Walmart and spend $100 on any item then go to a Western Union and send back the rest of the money via wire transfer. I knew this as too good to be true. I am so glad that I did a little research on this mater prior to trying to cash these damn money orders. THe money orders that they sent to me had the CVS/pharmacy logo on it as well as it being payable from Wells Fargo Bank. Unbelieveable!! Thanks for this blogg..

darlisa said...

I got money orders to be a secret shopper only to cash and send money by western union what shoul I do with the money orders
call me at 850-673-1236 with your suggestions please

Chris said...

Cash Mystery Shopper Checks at Suntrust. I'm serious, I am letting every consumer forum that I can find know that Suntrust takes no responsibility for fraud checks. They do not look for a watermark on fraud checks they process them and make you believe that you have the money. Then they turn around and charge you! Bull crap! Join me, tell everyone. Suntrust accepts phony checks! I want terms "phony check" "mystery shopper" and "Suntrust" to pop up in all web browsers. I will start a smear campaign against Suntrust and I will not cease!