Friday, April 10, 2015

Secret Shopper Scam Example

Today was my lucky day! Out of all the eligible email accounts in the world, I was selected as the recipient for this amazing Secret Shopper job offer. Below is the exact email that was sent;

I am Michael Reyes, Recruitment Specialist with Platanium Corporation.“We have a mystery shopping assignment in your area and we would like you to participate". Secret Shopper® has been in business since 1990. We are a charter member of the Mystery Shopping Provider's Association (MSPA), the professional trade association for the Mystery Shopping industry. There is no charge to apply to be a Secret Shopper® and information is protected. Secret Shopper® is accepting applications for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers. Its fun and rewarding, and you choose when and where you want to shop. You are never obligated to accept an assignment. There is no charge to become a shopper and you do not need previous experience. After you sign up, you will have access to training materials via e-mail, fax or postal mail.

Secret Shopper® is the premier mystery shopping company serving clients across America and Canada with over 500,000 shoppers available and ready to help businesses better serve their customers. Continual investment in the latest internet and communication technologies coupled with over 16 years of know-how means working with Secret Shopper® is a satisfying and rewarding experience. Secret shopping as seen on ABC NEWS, NBC NEWS, L.A.TIMES.Since 1990, Secret Shopper® has delivered actionable intelligence to our clients, helping to drive exceptional bottom-line performance. Nearly 1,000 shoppers have registered this week, performing millions of mystery shops throughout North America and the Caribbean. When coupled with our continual investment in the latest internet and communication technologies, you can rest assured that working with Secret Shopper® is a satisfying and rewarding experience.Secret Shopper® is also a charter member of the industry trade association, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Benefit from partnering with America’s premier mystery shopping company. We have been building our tradition of excellence for two decades.

Stores and organizations such as The Gap, Walmart, Pizza Hut and Banks. One amongst many others pay for Secret Shoppers to shop in their establishments and report their experiences. On top of being paid for shopping you are also allowed to keep purchases for free. Secret Shopper® NEVER charge fees to the shopper. Training, tips for improvement, and shopping opportunities are provided free to registered shoppers.Mystery shoppers are either paid a pre-arranged fee for a particular shop, a reimbursement for a purchase or a combination of both. Secret Shopper® has available for immediate assignment an inspection of the customer service of any walmart in your area. You are to shop secretly. This fee will be paid upfront. During this shopping, you will visit a location and make several observations as regards the customer service. You will be required to interact with the shopper clerk. You may conduct the shop alone or as a couple. The assignment will pay $200.00 per duty and you can be able to get up to 2- 3 duties in a week depending on how fast you are able to execute the first assignment. Kindly Fill Out the application form below and we will get back to you shortly with the assignment:
(The application form asked for name, address, phone numbers, age, and email address).

Let's break down how and why this "job" offer is a scam. (Our email filter by the way identified the email as probable spam). The email address of the sender was coming from an AOL email address that did not match the name of Michael Reyes noted in the first line. Also, why would a Recruitment Specialist for a real corporation use an AOL email address? Notice how the email was not addressed to anyone in particular. If a company was truly contacting someone for a job opportunity they would be addressing that person in their email. A quick Google check also does not reveal that a "Platanium Corporation" exists. If misspelled as "Platinum", not good to have your company name misspelled plus that company does exist with no connection to secret shopper programs.

Real secret shopper programs NEVER send money to strangers to purchase items and report back on their shopping experience. To say that "this fee will be paid upfront" is an obvious red flag of the scam. Real secret shopper programs focus on shoppers who visit their stores and transact business with their own personal money. They would then complete a very detailed secret shopper survey and be paid a nominal fee after the fact. It would NEVER be $200 for evaluating a shopping experience. The $200 carrot is out there by the scammer to attract people in difficult financial situations who see the offer as easy money. Also note that additional secret shopper duties might be available based upon the speed of your first assignment. Secrecy and speed are two components of any good scam.

The part that says "You will be required to interact with the shopper clerk" is the meat of the real scam since this is where they will have the victim to wire funds to a recipient provided by the scammer. The wire is almost always going outside of the country. The scammer will provide a counterfeit check after the applicant information is provided to cover the costs of the shopping items, wire amount (largest transaction of course), and the $200 fee for the mystery shopper. These counterfeit checks usually fall below $3,000 because of various banking hold policies and stiffer criminal penalties for larger fake checks.

These Secret Shopper scams have been around for some time and show no signs of slowing down. NEVER respond to the emails because they then have a valid email address and will continue to send additional fake offers in the hopes of having just one scam that finally works.

Be careful out there and remember that fraudsters are always inventing new ways to separate victims from their money. Feel free to contact me or our office staff if you ever receive a questionable offer that you would like to have reviewed.