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Mystery shopper scam

READ MORE: Mystery shopper scam
With today's sluggish economy, you may be looking for a way to make an extra buck. As Good Morning America reported this morning, one way to do that is to become a mystery shopper. Retailers hire marketing research companies to evaluate the quality of services in their stores. Mystery shoppers are hired to go check out the stores anonymously. Those shopper are then given a small reimbursement. But beware, not all mystery shopper jobs are legit. WWAY anchor Marcy Cuevas got a letter in the mail, asking her to become a mystery shopper. Along with it, came an authentic looking check for almost $4,000. Cape Fear Bank manager Jeff Britt confirmed our suspicions that the offer is a scam. Britt said, "The letter is asking you to deposit a counterfeit item into your account - you don't know it's counterfeit then it's asking you to wire funds typically overseas or to contact someone who's going to instruct you to wire funds." Britt says mystery shopper scams are common, and its easy to fall for them. Here's how this one would work. A mystery shopper is to check on whether money wiring services like Western Union or Money Gram check for identification. The shopper is asked to deposit this check into their bank account, then wire $3,400 of it to a given location. "You've now deposited a counterfeit item into your account, you hand over cash to a criminal, the check is returned as fraudulent and now you're stuck with trying to get $3,980 back into your account," said Britt. WWAY called the number on the letter, to find out if it was a scam. Lynn Williams of Solution Market Research said, "I can totally reassure you that this is legit for sure." WWAY then told the woman we were researching a story. We were then told we would be transferred to a manager and were hung up on. WWAY tried calling back several times with no success. Jeff Britt says a legitimate market research company will never ask you for a fee up front, and will only pay mystery shoppers $10 to $25. "It will never be in large amounts and they will never ask you to wire funds," said Britt. No matter how convincing the scam may be, if you get a check in the mail and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just to be sure, Jeff Britt called the bank the alleged check was drafted from, and confirmed it was fake. Just today, North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper released news of an agreement with MoneyGram, to help crack down on these types of scams. More information on the agreement with MoneyGram Telemarketing fraud rings will have a harder time taking consumers’ money thanks to changes that wire service MoneyGram will make, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today. “Telemarketing scammers are experts at tricking people into wiring them money,” said Cooper. “This agreement will help stop scammers from using wire transfers to rip off consumers.” Under the agreement with North Carolina, 43 other states and the District of Columbia, MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc. will take significant steps to cut down on the use of its services by fraudulent telemarketers. MoneyGram will, among other things, put prominent warnings to consumers on the front of forms used to wire money and fund a $1.1 million national consumer awareness program. Cooper’s office also host scam jams across the state to educate consumers about the latest frauds and scams. For more information, visit

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Commonsense makes me laugh...daily...

Are you sure you're not my far right father-in-law in disguise?? LOL


This makes no sense to me. What bank lets you deposit a check and lets you get the cash from your account BEFORE the check has cleared????? NONE that I have ever banked with. Banks wont even let you cash a check (not written on their bank) unless you have the cash to cover it in your acct. Normal banks protect themselves from loss as well as you. You can not just hand them a $4,000.00 check from whoever and get the cash right then or in a day for that matter. The check has to clear FIRST. I guess this scam company relies on the idea that someone with enough cash already in their bank account may fall for this.


A local bank FSNB fell for this scam and it was deposited into my co-workers checking account as a good check for 4 days.


The people who send out all these checks out just need a couple of suckers with enough money in their accounts to cover the deposit to make it a profitable scam for them. And they are almost always overseas corporations and banks, which makes it impossible for the victims to get their money back.


I bank with SunTrust and I can deposit a check and recieve cash back right away! I dont know who you bank with but you may want to consider changing banks. If the check is bad you just have to pick up the slack, either pay it off yourself or send the check back to the person who issued the check and get them to pay you back with cash with the NSF fee.

sun trust

Looks like sun trust's YOU to pay when a check is bad. Wow, they are really looking out for you????? Re-read what you wrote...slowly....key words I picked up on were "all you have to do is pick up the slack" Duh people!!!!!!!

Shadow Shopping Scam...

I am holding a check from a NJ bank, with paperwork out of Ontario. I figure, if I just go to my bank and ask them to call and clear the check so I can cash it right there and then.. ok we are either set or not. Nothing in my paperwork says I have to deposit it.


Believe it or not, I've gotten TWO of these checks. Company #1 supposed address is set in NYC. Company #2 is supposed to be in Santa Barbara. #1's telephone number is area code 403. That's an Alberta (as in Canada) area code. I know, I checked. The bank the check is written on is located in Philadelphia. #2's telephone number is area code 514. That's Quebec. They're supposed to located in Santa Barbara. Check #1 is for the amount of $4,450. #2 is for $4,975. #1 is dated for July 6, 2008. #2 for September 6, 2008. For all those reasons above, I started trying to research the two companies and I could find nothing to verify their existence. I'm not calling Canada. After sitting on them for the last few days, I was going to ask my bank to verify funds before doing anything else with them until a friend mentioned to me about this article. By the way, in the letter from Company #1, the recipient is told in bold letters to deposit the check. Company #2 declares that if the receiver does not call after receiving the check, then they will put a stop payment order on the check. I'm in a financially tough position. I'm looking for work and, yes, I'm getting a little desperate. However, I never would have risked my bank account for a job. I had a plan of action and it depended on the clearing of the check, first. I almost agree that anyone falling for a check that hasn't cleared yet is almost asking for it but at the same time, I can see why they'd want to. I've been a mystery shopper and it was a great job while I had it. But it's a job that has to be found and not one that's offered willy nilly. When I was a mystery shopper before, I had to apply to various companies on a list that I had to pay for. Like mentioned above, it's not a job that pays as much as was being offered. I averaged about $15 a job. About the saddest thing regarding these checks is that I get to shred them...such a cruel sight that's going to be. Ugh.