Local Community Sees Rash of "Mystery Shopper" Scams

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

In his six years as a mystery shopper Greg Zonker's managed to avoid the business' many scams.

"They gave me a check for $4,000 and they told me to go to my bank, cash it, go to a Western Union and send $3,400 of it to some place in Canada," Zonker said.

That would have left him with $600 dollars.

"A week or so later the bank tells you your check was a fraud and you owe them $4,000," Zonker said.

Zonker realized just in time.

"The telephone number that was written on the check was not the bank's telephone number," he said.

But not everyone does. Within a week, three people in Blackman Township fell for that very scam.

"If they respond to the initial mailing they get a second mailing from this mystery shopping business out of Ontario. They are then required to purchase a book on how to make money as a mystery shopper," said Det. Sgt. Chris Boulter.

They're then e-mailed, usually via a Hotmail account, and sent a check, usually for thousands of dollars. Boulter says there's a few ways to know the check is bogus. One of the bogus checks used the back name "Pnc" but left it lowercase rather than how it should be, in CAPS: "PNC." The checks were also written as if they were coming from Allegheny college.

"It should not be in the name of say, Allegheny College it should be in the business name," he said. "We're seeing a lot of them from Europe, Canada, from Nigeria and it is very difficult to not only track them down but to prosecute them."

Leaving victims not only out thousands of dollars, but also...

"Theyre looked at as suspects by their financial institution," Boulter said, adding if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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  • by Anonymous on May 19, 2011 at 02:34 PM
    This is the nigeria scam revised. The best thing to do is to waste their time and money. give them a hook and let them see how far they are willing to coopeate with you. If people would make them waste their time and energy that 4000 would not be worth it if they had to go all the way to the end and realize that they are not able to go to the western union and get the money. Tell them that you sent them a check to the address or tell them that they need to send the package again. they see greed so they will do anything for free money.
  • by Binai English Location: Dublin, GA on May 19, 2011 at 01:09 PM
    How do I know if it is a scam or not(mystery shopper jobs)?
  • by Lindsey Location: Michigan on May 18, 2011 at 06:14 PM
    There is a gal around Lansing that teaches some mystery shopper classes. She has a list of companies that use mystery shoppers and they don't ask for money from the shoppers. Shoppers get their assignments and are paid after they complete their reports. Assignments aren't always that frequent and don't usually pay very much. One of my friends made like $12 on her first assignment, not hunreds or thousands of dollars. Some do not pay enough to cover gas and/or your time and you have the choice of what jobs to take or not take. Be very careful what you get yourself into.
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