Tuesday, July 25, 2006

According to Google - The Secret Shopper Scam is Acting Up Again

I just recently started tracking the "keywords" used to visit my site. In the past week, I've noticed I'm getting a lot of visitors (mostly using Google) searching the keyword "Secret Shopper scam. I'm also getting seeing a lot of visits from "keyword searches" on counterfeit Travelers Express Money Orders.

In many cases the keyword searches contained both phrases.

In the Secret Shopper scam, people are solicited to become "Secret Shoppers" - sometimes known as "Mystery Shoppers" - and go into (normally) Walmart to negotiate a bogus check (Walmart recently got into the business of cashing checks). They are then asked to wire the money using Walmart's MoneyGram services to Canada and report on the "customer service" aspects of their visits.

The checks, in most cases, are counterfeit! The person cashing them will be the one held responsible, which will mean a "financial hardship" and (possibly) criminal charges for their labor.

Once the money is wired, it's normally picked up immediately, and can't be recovered.

Here are some other posts regarding this scam:

Secret Shopper Scam Targets Walmart, Again

Secret Shoppers Scammed

Counterfeit Travelers Express (MoneyGram) Money Orders Showing Up ...

And here "cut and pasted" (from an earlier post) is where you can report these scams:

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

Also, if you are seeing this scam, please feel free to e-mail me (edwarddickson@sbcglobal.net) , or leave a comment on this post. I'm curious to see how well the "keyword analysis" works.

33 comments:

Aaron said...

Saw this one show up recently.

Anonymous said...

I can't use my real name but someone came into where I work with one of these.

Anonymous said...

narrowly escaped being a victim to this very same scam. My wife received a letter from Secret Shoppers who got her contact info from a job hunting website. They were supposed to send her written info only on home based businesses. Instead they sent a check for $3450 with this secret shopper assignment of going to moneygram at Walmart. Same scenario. Deposit the check in your bank. Within 48 hours, wire $3035 to a fake relative in Canada. Pay $115 for the wire fee, and keep $300 for ourselves. I even called the number listed on the front of the check to verify that the check was legit. That company is a fraud too! I initially deposited the money thru the ATM. The whole thing just didnt feel right, so I got online the next morning at work and discovered its a scam. I was thankfully able to retrieve the check before it was deposited!

Anonymous said...

I fortunately researched the information, before falling victim to the exact same scam posted here.

I received $1,800 in Traveler's Express Money Orders. I was also instructed to purchase a Moneygram from Walmart in the amount of $1,620, and send it to my fake relative in Canada. $150 was to be my paid training to become a Mystery Shopper for: Barret Service Solutions, and $30 was for the Moneygram purchase.

Thank you so much for this blog/information, without it I too may have fallen victim. It is my hope that others will also be saved from becoming victims after seeing this information, and that we will continue to spread the word.

Anonymous said...

I fell into the scam for a company called barret service solutions. I am now $3600 in the hole and will soon lose everything, possibly my car!!! I am in tears writting this because I know there is almost no recovery for me. Stupid kid trying to make some extra money on the side of having a full time job and going to school full time too!! Hopefully I won't go to jail, but the chances are now very likely due to my lack of funds!!!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is "Thank You". My desperate search for ways in which to subsidise our income has led to my receipt of one such letter.

JJ said...

This scam has hit the UK. I have received one of these checks. Variation - It's Marks and Spencer, but still wire via Western Union to Canada. I am in IT so naturally became suspicious. Rang the number on the cheque ( 24 hour banking for Royal Bank of Canada). No way was this guy ( who told me he was called Andy Glover) worked for a Bank ! Didn't even know his own Sort Code ! Rank RBC - they advise their Bankers Drafts have an 8 digit number on the top, this has 6.

Will ring the RBC in Jersey tomorrow where draft claims to have originated from to warn them.

Left a message on the answaphone of "Paid Surveys" where this alleges to have come from, claiming to be interested. Hope somebody calls me back so I can advise them that I am not impressed.

Ed Dickson said...

Thanks for the update - and for warning the bank!

Anonymous said...

"I fell into the scam for a company called barret service solutions. I am now $3600 in the hole and will soon lose everything, possibly my car!!! I am in tears writting this because I know there is almost no recovery for me. Stupid kid trying to make some extra money on the side of having a full time job and going to school full time too!! Hopefully I won't go to jail, but the chances are now very likely due to my lack of funds!!!"

-I too work full-time and am a full-time student. I fell for the exact company scam as the post quoted above and now I'm in the same situation. I just finalized a loan for my car- plus insurance- and there is NO way I can pay it back...I am past tears right now and into the beginnings of depression the doctor says, because now, I might lose my car and if that happens, there goes any chance of keeping my REAL job I have already since no car means no transportation (I live in the suburbs...) and I won't even be able to get another!!!

Anonymous said...

Just got one in the mail today. A check for $3860. The check is from The Bank of New York. I'm sure a fake. The letterhead on the letter is Consumer Media Agency with a Canadian address in Saskatoon.They are requesting I cash the check immediately. Go to Wallmart buy something, return it 30 minutes latter, then buy something worth $100 for myself to keep,then fill out a Consumer report on a Research form. The funds distributing schedule is:

1. part-Time payment $230
2. Money gran to be transfered: $3360
3. Funds needed for Shopping: $100
4:Travelinling fund: $20
5. Transferring fees: $120

It all must be done within 1 week. At the end I would end up having deposited a fake check, and monigraming them $3360. Since the bank wouldn't get back to me befor I sent the moneygram (within 1 week), I would be left to pay the bank back, plus who knows crimianal charges!!

Anonymous said...

Be careful when you login to www.frontlinefocus.com a mystery shopping scam. You will be cheated. 2-3 payments you will recieve on time. But the rest you will never get. This company does mystery shopping for Pizza Hut and KFC. Karim Khalil is the king of this ring. Operational base Dubai.

Anonymous said...

same scam from a company calling itself Dudon Research, P.O. Box 390 Atlanta, GA - check is from Moody International, Inc., Amelia, La. Bank is Captial One of New Orleans.
There is a Moody International Inc, but its business is not mystery shopping.

Anonymous said...

They are also sending the MoneyGrams out that have the name Albertsons' with their logo. Have seen 5 of them each worth $870.00 and had something to do with "secret shoppers" . The purchaser name was Art Wedge with the address 8524 37th avenue Kenosha, WI 53142. All 5 were dated 7/9/2008. Unfortunately I know this because of an old joint checking account I had and thought was closed over a year ago, in fact was not closed and thats where they were deposited and now I'm responsible (being the joint owner) for half of the money

Anonymous said...

I too almost fell victim to this scam. Receiced a check for $3983.00 and was told to deposit the check in my checking account and withdraw all but $383 the next day which I could keep the next day for training pay and expenses. The other was for a $100 walmart purchase, $3400 wire transfer to Canada and $100 for the money gram fee. After being skeptical I looked this up and realized what was going on. Dont fall victim. This perticular person is calling thereselves MarketStar...Consumer Research Group with a phone number of 1514-638-8792 which I looked up and is a Canada number. Please dont fall victim to this scam.

Anonymous said...

Just got this offer via email signed by
Howell Martins
Secret Shopper®
The assignment is BELIEVE IT! WALMARTS! I live in New York, don't get a lot of spam but they found me. Be on the lookout for this email.

Vietnam Travel said...

Thanks for the update - and for warning the bank!

Anonymous said...

well heres another scam. excited! yes i was..don't be fooled..thanks to websites about fraud...these scam artists are busted more quickly..only i wish we could get our hands on them..this is terrible..i was smart an investigate..i got check and was ask to keep $400 and withdraw rest and call them back and they would tell me what to do next..i was fixing to transfer my own money to someone in canada..whooooo!.im glad i did not..please be careful..i know times are hard an it would be very tempting as the checks look real

Anonymous said...

I received an e-mail about being a Secret Shopper for Steve Allen and a subsequent e-mail from Anthro Nikolas & Co. Inc. I was sent 2 money orders via fed ex in the amount of $825 each. I was to keep $200 and send the remaining money minus the wiring fee to someone in the Phillippines. Supposedly the secret shopper assignment was to rate the quality of a local Western Union site on their customer service. I was suspicious from the beginning as the e-mails lacked proper grammer and I did not see the need to have such a large amount of money being transfered to rate a locations customer service skills. In addition, a gentleman claiming to be from the Steve Allen Secret Shopper (who was obviously foreign)called me to see if I had received the money orders and wanted to know when I was going to send the money. I told him I was checking into the ligitimacy of this "business". I plan on turning the money orders and e-mails over to someone who can pursue this scam further, but I'm not sure who would be the best person to turn it into. Any suggestions?

Linda said...

I got an email about this a couple of days ago. I do a lot of mystery shopping and things like that so at first I didn't think anything of it. I responded and said I would be interested then when I got the next email (this morning) and really read what it said. When i looked at the email address I knew something wasn't right. It was a gmail account! I know that some people could use outside mail clients and filter them through their email, etc, but not for anything official! I am saving anything that this guy sends and will be passing it along to law enforcement authorities!

Laura said...

As i am writing this i am calling the Wachovia Bank of North Carolina to let them know that i was sent a check from "walmart" for $3,499.86. I asked them if this is a real check or not and they are investigating it! I got this check sent by America Mystery Shoppers INC. I used to work for walmart and i know that they do have mistery shoppers, but this is tooo fake!!!! I will keep you update with this... oh the way my latter says (which is most family to everyone elses)

1 probation training pay (your weekly salary)......$299.86
2 Required funds needed to send to "a person of your choice"...... $2,900.00
3 Service charges to be paid at Moneygram.......$100.00
4(by they way they put the #3 twice) Bonus funds needed for shopping at Walmart........$200.00(we get to keep the items that we buy)
**and you have 72 hours to complete the first two assignments! ** LOL

still on the phone so will post up later with more info!

by the way thank you for all your info it help alot with me cause we all need that extra cash and all this sounds too good to be true....

I would love to know real site of mystery shopper cause i know it is a job, but i rather have it the correct and legal way! =)


just got off the phone not a good check and they are aware of the situation! soo watch out for "AMERICA MYSTERY SHOPPERS INC."

I will be calling walmart to let them know about this..

Laura said...

OHHH also they have all the information from walmart address correct, even from Wachovia Bank address corret!

I didn't bother to called their number, for the fact that i know that they have ppl working pretending that everything is correct and legal...

also the account number they provided for walmart (from the check) is the right account, but the bank knew it was all a fraud cuase of the way that they format their business check!

GL and hopefully this help anyone like the other comments helped me! =)

Anonymous said...

I almost fell for this same scam recently but it was from JobSolutions. Thanks to google and all your posts I am not negative $3,975 in the hole.

I pray for those of you who did get caught up in the middle of this horrible scam. I hope everything works out and the aweful people running this scam get whats coming to them. I am a firm believer in karma!!

In the middle of our countrys recession most of us are constantly looking for a way to make a few extra bucks. I find it sad that there are people out there trying to attack us when we are most vulnerable.

DONT FALL FOR THIS!! THEY WILL TAKE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY!!!

miah said...

i got a letter from "job solutions" mystery shopper people enclose was a check for $4,480 with the same scenario of purchasing $50 from walmart twice keeping 300 for myself and then a moneygram transfer/transaction of $2200 and $1795.. i called the numbers on the paper and got a real person they even sent me an evaluation sheet and a rep id number
i googled this and called the bank that the bank was suppose to be from and they're saying its all fake.

cora said...

I was sent a check 9/24/09 asking me to deposit the 3,500 check and to Westen Union 3,200 to someone in CA then use the rest as payment and to make purchases at Walmart and fill out the formed I was emailed! The check has a Bank of America Logo but I am not that stupid I emailed him back and said I was having the check investigated but really not sure what to do with it! It was from Frank James MLB Co.

Anonymous said...

I recieved a check in the mail from a company called Job Solutions in Ohio. The check was for $3,992.00 and of course they wanted me to cash it right away and wire $3,600.00 to a relative in what ever state they would tell me to wire it. Then I'm suppose to keep $200 for myself and use $92.00to shop with and I can keep the purchases. I looked up the bank that is on the check its called Horizon Bank in Blaine Washington, its a real bank but its a fake address on the check. I just want to tell all of you to be very careful and don't put any personal information online. It's getting close to the holiday season so we might be seeing a lot of these letters going around. I called the Better Business Bureau in my area and they said while there is nothing that can be done to these companies because it is a fly by night scam the only thing we can do is spread the word to everyone. All i can say is how often is it that you recieve a check in the mail for no reason....if it seems suspicious most of the time it is. Do your research don't fall victim to these scams.

tina said...

I too have recieved several of these. I investigated and found at least two to be scams. I have a third one now. Can you tell me is BMA secret shopper is one of these scam companies? Or Albertson's Money gram drawn on Wells Fargo bank?

angella said...

Angella
I just got one of this check for $950.00 I am to keep $200.00 as part of my weekly payment and send the balance to a John Paul at 148 Al Beina Road in United Arab Emirates. I should go to my bank and have it cashed their.
This was sent to me via FedEx. I know thios was a scam and the letter was from a Richard King
the mystery shopping company was achantilly's Bridal in Beaumont Tx. Their is no such company in Tx.The sender of the money order is a Douglas Beall. I know that this was a scam from the start.

PJ said...

FYI: Everybody who received a check gave these scammers personal information...For some, you caught on before actually cashing/depositing the check, but remember the email asked for your Name, address, phone #, times your available, name of your alternate employer, and in some instances they request you e-mail a resume... Way to much personal information easily given out to a scammer...to get the check, you gave your address! Be careful, I recommend Checking out SCAMS before responding with requested information, or better yet hit delete...! Identity theft is real and rampant. Be safe!

Rinkesh said...

Its Pleasure to read your blog.The above articles is very impressive, and I really enjoyed reading your blog and points that you expressed. I love to come back on a regular basis,post more on the subject.
Thanks for sharing...keep writing!!!
Rank A Website

Anonymous said...

I am in the middle of such a scam right now. Actually when I get home today I should have 2 packages waiting for me. I told the person who sent the email to me that my bank isn't open late until Friday so that would be the soonest I could cash the money orders. In reality when I get home I'm not going to do anything w/them. I am to cash the money orders (1st on $1850) (2nd $1867) in both instances I am to keep $200 for my self and use part of the money to wire to 2 different locations in Turkey from a Western Union location. Each time the person emails me the email addresses change. I also had a package that was on it's way to my house but UPS intercepted it for fraud pretection. When I contacted the person in regards to this they ignored my email and went ahead and resent these orders. Now I have no clue what to do w/the money orders

Anonymous said...

I got a check in the mail today from a address in New York supposedly worth 2,450.71 the letter asked me to spend 100 at WALMART 100 at SEARS and wire 1710 via WESTERN UNION signed by a Robins A. Brewster from a Bank outta Oklahoma. After doing a little online research i found out the bank is (of course) real and the company address is a Market Research Company. BE WARNED NEW SCAM COMPANY Market Survey Inc.

Anonymous said...

Here are some information about a peson with the name Michael who contacted me about offering a job: writing checks from home and using a personal printer. This is the website he told me about to work for: Anthro Nikolas & Co., Inc. http://www.ancoin.net/index.htm This perosn Michael recognized that the phone numers from the website are FAKE. He said that his company is from CANADA and cannot be found with any search engine as is private.
This is his yahoo messenger id name: muellermichael47
My guess is that this person wants people to write fake checks and print them at home.
Feel free to check it. FOR SURE this person is involved in an ILLEGAL activity.
BE CAREFUL, DO NOT ACCEPT SUCH A JOB! IS DANGEROUS AND YOU CAN BE IN TROUBLE.

Anonymous said...

Today is March 5 2013 , I just received a check from horizon survey inc. Thanks to this blog I didn't fall for it , called local authorities and filed a report.