Consumers Around Country Caught By Fake Money Order Scams
DALLAS, Dec. 7, 2006 – The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources, wants to make sure consumers are aware of check-cashing scams popping up across the country this holiday season.
A check-cashing scam offers consumers the opportunity to make “easy money” by cashing a large sum cashier’s check and evaluating the service they receive when they wire the money to another location, typically outside the country. The “reward” offered to consumers is a percentage of the original cashier’s check as payment. In these scams, the check bounces several days later and the consumer is held liable for the entire amount of money wired to the international address – typically between $1,000 and $5,000.
"The biggest challenge for consumers with the check-cashing scam is the fact that scammers frequently use the names of legitimate mystery shopping companies in the letter they send to potential victims, and the cashier’s check contains the name of a real bank and looks real," said MSPA Executive Director John Swinburn. "The bottom line for consumers is this – if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Consumers who receive a similar offer are urged to contact authorities, including the local police, the FBI, and the Federal Trade Commission. If the offer is received via mail, consumers should also contact the U.S. Postal Service.
Consumers should also be cautious of e-mails offering free food, shopping trips, dinners and other elaborate gifts for a small, one-time fee. These offers typically provide information on how to become a mystery shopper, rather than actual mystery shopping jobs. The good news for potential shoppers: information on how to become a mystery shopper is available for free on the MSPA Web site, www.mysteryshop.org.
Mystery shopping is a valuable tool used by some of the largest retailers, restaurants and banks to understand and enhance the experience they provide their customers. However, it is not a quick and easy way to make a large sum of money and receive numerous freebies. The MSPA has developed the following tips for those interested in becoming a mystery shopper:
To learn more about the Federal Trade Commission's information on cashiers check scams, visit the FTC Alert on the topic).
If you think you’ve been targeted by a counterfeit check scam, report it to the following agencies: