Below is an actual example of a Secret Shopper scam. The scam is that you receive a fake check and are then directed to send money via a Moneygram or Western Union, pocketing the difference as your compensation for "evaluating" the money transfer transaction.
"Our online data source has identified you as a candidate interested in an additional income part-time job. Therefore we are pleased to invite you to participate in a paid Triple "S" Program (Secret Smash Shopper) in your area of residence as a Customer Service Evaluator of selected retail stores, restaurants, and various other commercial establishments making predetermined purchases and evaluating the customer service level of the stores and service providers. Secret Shopping or Mystery Consumer is a tool used by market research companies to measure quality of retail services or gather specific information about products and services.
As one of our possible 5,700 shoppers selected for this project, you visit selected businesses in your area and secretly evaluate things like customer service, store location, and appearance as well as product quality. If you accept this offer, the current consumer services evaluation you are undertaking will attract a participation pay of $300.00 per week. After a few evaluations your participation will be reviewed with the possibility of it going up to $450.00 per week. Depending on the company you will be assigned and the tasks involved participation pay can go as high as $600.00 a week after six months. Upon accepting this offer you must keep your identity and assignments as a secret shopper CONFIDENTIAL in order not to introduce any form of bias to the data you collect. You must not take this letter to your assignments.
This assignment is put together to be completed at two different locations. The evaluation will take place at any MONEYGRAM or WESTERN UNION agent bear you or as determined by your coordinator. The objective of this assignment will be to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the payment system. You will pose as a customer sending the stipulated amount listed below to a supposed relative of yours residing at a location your Training Coordinator will provide to you. This offer expires 7 DAYS from the day you call in the receipt of this letter. This program is run on a weekly basis.
Below is a breakdown of the enclosed check bearing the required funds to cover your first week's assignments as follows:
1. Participation Pay for first week = $300.00
2. Stipulated amount for Money Gram/Western Union = $2,600.00
3. Service Fee by Money Gram/Western Union = $200.00
TOTAL AMOUNT = $3,100.00
Please Call your Assigned Training Coordinator at 1=800-###-#### for any further clarification or if you do not understand the offer. Your coordinator will provide you a computer generated receiver name you will need to complete for your first assignment. Withdraw the required amounts and proceed to evaluations. Upon completion of evaluations, notify your coordinator and fax your market report forms and all receipts."
Pretty slick, huh? There are many variations of this same scam so avoid these type of employment offers. Anytime you asked to send money to a stranger from funds given to you by a stranger, you should not engage in that transaction. There are potential criminal implications for members who negotiate counterfeit checks as well.