BBB Scam of the Week: Secret shopping and fake checks

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MONROE, La (KNOE) - Scammers need a good story to get to your wallet. Once they find one that works, they use it again and again.
One of their old favorites brings together fake checks and secret shopping, and we've been hearing a lot about it lately.

Courtesy: MGN Online

Here's how it starts.

You get a check in the mail with a job offer as a secret shopper. You deposit the check and see the funds in your account a few days later, and the bank even tells you the check has cleared.
Now you're off to the store you've been asked to shop at and report back on, often a Walmart. Your first assignment is to test the in-store money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram, by sending some of the money you deposited. Or you might be told to use the money to buy reloadable cards or gift cards, such as iTunes cards. You're instructed to send pictures of the cards or to give the numbers on the cards.

The bank finds out the check you deposited is a fake, which means you're on the hook for all that money.
The moral of the story? If anyone ever asks you to deposit a check and then wire or send money in any way, you can bet it's a scam. No matter what they tell you.

Counterfeit or fake checks are being used in a growing number of fraudulent schemes, including foreign lottery scams, check overpayment scams, Internet auction scams, and secret shopper scams.
Check overpayment scams target consumers selling cars or other valuable items through classified ads or online auction sites. A scam artist replies to a classified ad or auction posting, offers to pay for the item with a check, and then comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the purchase price. The scammer asks the seller to wire back the difference after depositing the check. The seller does it, and later, when the scammer's check bounces, the seller is left liable for the entire amount.

In secret shopper scams, the consumer, hired to be a secret shopper, is asked to evaluate the effectiveness of a money transfer service. The consumer is given a check, told to deposit it in their bank account, and withdraw the amount in cash. Then, the consumer is told to take the cash to the money transfer service specified, and typically, send the transfer to a person in a Canadian city. Then, the consumer is supposed to evaluate their experience — but no one collects the evaluation.