Market research firms, training companies, merchandisers,temporary agencies and other businesses specialize in recruiting mysteryshoppers. Unfortunately, so do scam artists. People with the right talents(attention to detail, skilled in communications and completing paperwork) can becomepaid mystery shoppers, if they avoid the "too good to be true"offers.
Consumers reported they were “hired” to test a company’s checkcashing services and received a cashier’s check in advance, as payment for thejob. The consumers were instructed to deposit the check into their bankaccounts and then wire money to an address in Canada.
Everything goes smoothly at first. The banking institutionlisted on the check is a real bank, and the account number and routing numberon the check are real. The “shopper” is able to deposit the check in their bankaccount without a glitch. However, a serious problem arises later when the"shopper" is notified by their bank that the check is counterfeit,and they must repay the bank the money they withdrew against the bad check,plus fines.
“There are numerous variations to this scam, but they all haveone common goal - to get the targeted victim to cash the check and wire money,”said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau President. “Whether you’re offeredpayment for something to sell or being paid to do work from your home, if youare asked to cash a check and then wire money back, it’s most likely going tobe a scam.”
BBB warns againstthe following business and their ‘mystery shopping’ job offers all currently F rated, due to concerns BBBhas with the industry in which they operate:
LibertyTrade Management Services of Batavia,NY - consumershave reported to the BBB that they have received unsolicited checks and wiredmoney to a foreign location. After wiring the money consumers are alerted fromthe bank that the checks are not good and the consumers have to repay the bank.
TheNational Consumer Voice Customer Evaluation of Niagara Falls, NY - consumers were senta check in the mail. When one consumer tried to cash the check the bankverified the check was fraudulent.
SchnuckSurvey Consumer Research of Niagara Falls, NY – consumers report this companysent checks in the mail for a Secret Shopping opportunity. The address thecompany is using is a fraudulent address in NY.
Consumers are also encouragedto avoid the following ten businesses:
- In Touch Mystery Shopper Experts of Warsaw, NY
- Kata Management of Lancaster, NY
- Laredo Marketing Inc. of Niagara Falls, NY
- Logic Marketing Inc. of Lockport, NY
- Mystery Evaluation Research Company of Clifton Park, NY
- Regional Marketing Services of Rochester, NY
- Spectrum Management Inc. of Rochester, NY
- The First Alliance Survey Management Services Inc. of Buffalo, NY
- Vantage Market Research Inc. of Syracuse, NY
- Yak Management Solution of Lancaster, NY
In some cases, businesses receive a lower rating when they donot respond to BBB requests for information about the businesses, or fail toprovide sufficient background information on the business. More informationabout BBB ratingselements can be found at bbb.org.
To steer clear ofget-rich-quick offers, the BBB advises mystery shopper applicants to:
- Ignore claims that you will make big profits easily. Mystery shopping will not make you rich; at best it provides part-time income.
- Avoid falling for claims that "guarantee" a position, without training.
- Be cautions of unsolicited e-mails offering "work-from-home."
- Never pay money up-front. A legitimate mystery shopping service will not charge money for materials, training or recruiting.
- Check the business out with the BBB, local consumer protection agency, and state attorney general.
- Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at www.mysteryshop.org for information on how to register to be a mystery shopper with a MSPA-member company, a database of available jobs, and additional information on the industry in general.