The scam is disguised as a legitimate Secret Shopper offer. Scammers mail a packet to an unsuspecting resident. The packet includes a check, which the prospective Secret Shopper is encouraged to cash. Some of the money is to be used to Mystery Shop retail stores (with a predetermined amount left over for the Secret Shopper to keep as payment). The letter advertises a bonus if the job is completed within 24 hours.
The supplied check or money order is fake, but looks legitimate enough for the initial deposit to be placed into the victim’s account. Once the check is processed and the fraud detected, the bank removes the funds from the account (often taking the victim’s account into a negative balance).
The fraud can go undetected for up to a week. By the time the bank removes the funds, the victim has already purchased gift cards and supplied the scammer with the serial numbers. The scammer unloads the cards, leaving the victim with worthless cards and a negative balance in their checking account.
Click Here to view an example letter that came in a fraudulant Secret Shopper packet received by a local resident. The victim lost over a thousand of dollars in the scam.