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“Mystery Shopper” scams continue to snare unwary victims

Mystery shoppers are people hired to shop at a particular store and report on the shopping experience for purposes of quality control. Unlike many scams, there actually are legitimate mystery shopper companies, but they never advertise or recruit through emails. Here is how this scam works:

You receive a bank check and are told to deposit it immediately and go shop. You’re told you get to keep some of the money, but you’re asked to wire the remaining money back to the sender right away. As you might have guessed, the check is bogus but the money you wire back is real, and it’s yours.

Here is a general safety rule: Whenever you receive a check, wait for your bank to tell you that the check has fully cleared before you consider the funds as actually being in your account. Never accept a check for more than what is owed with instructions to send back the rest, which is a major red flag. Last, always be very cautious if you’re ever asked to wire funds, because this is a common theme in many scams.

If it seems too good to be true… it probably is!