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Susan Tompor: Mystery shopper job could swindle you out of thousands

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Psst, here's a secret. Some of those great opportunities to be a mystery shopper are nothing but a way to con you out of your cash.

Willie Smith, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1975-79, went online looking for a way to make some extra money. He saw a site offering a job opportunity as a secret shopper so he filled out some information.

But Smith, 63, became suspicious when a priority envelope was sent to his home in Saginaw, Michigan, back in March and included a check for $2,150. He was to deposit the check into his bank account, start buying gift cards and do some secret shopping at Walmart.

Before he cashed that check, he did some more digging online, and among other things, he discovered that Walmart doesn't use mystery shoppers or hire anyone to perform such services for other retailers or companies.

Why they send $2K before you start work

His advice to others: "Don't do it. Don't put that check into your account. When that check doesn't clear, you've got to pay all that money back."

--Sponsored Video--

Other consumers haven't been as fortunate and they're losing hundreds or thousands of dollars to a similar sort of scam.

A consumer in Ohio reported receiving a package that included a $1,500 check, according to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker.

The consumer was told to buy $1,100 in iTunes gift cards and keep $400. "If an employee at Walmart asked if I was a mystery shopper, I was instructed to say no," the consumer said.

The consumer then texted photos of the backside of gift cards, giving the scammers access to necessary numbers to use the money on the gift cards. The consumer discovered too late in the game that the initial $1,500 check was counterfeit.

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