West Bloomfield woman not fooled by secret shopping scam

Mystery shopper scam still one of the top schemes used by thieves

Published On: Mar 30 2012 10:51:35 PM EDT
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DETROIT -

The secret shopping scam is still circulating with metro Detroit residents receiving offers for the fake jobs.

Aimee Pollak received an email letting her know there was a mystery shopping assignment in her area.

"It seemed legitimate," said Pollak.

The email said her first assignment would be to shop at Wal-Mart. She would receive a salary of $300 for completing the assignment. The email also said Pollak would receive a check for $4,950.

"It seemed like a real check," said Pollak. "Then it started to say, then after you go to Wal-Mart, you're going to go to Western Union."

This is how the scam works

To be a mystery shopper, Pollak is given the check for $4,950 and she is told how to spend it:

She is paid a salary of $300 to go to Wal-Mart
She is to spend $50 there as part of her test on how the business is doing and should keep what she buys.
Her second assignment is to check out Western Union and wire $4,600, which is the balance of the check.

For the scam to be a success, crooks hope Pollak will deposit the check in her bank account and fulfill her assignments before the bank alerts her that the check is a fake. If that were to happen, she would have already wired them the $4,600. Experts said once money is wired, it's nearly impossible to get back.

Pollak decided to do nothing with the check, but that didn't initially stop the scam artists from contacting her.

"They sent me another email that said, 'We're waiting for you to finish your assignment. Have you done your assignment?'," said Pollak. "

I sent them an email that said don't send me any more emails, you guys are a scam and I heard nothing else back from them," said Pollak.

The Better Business Bureau said legitimate secret shopping jobs exist, but they usually come directly from the business.
"They're going to ask for either consumers that shop there, so if they have a membership appreciation group, jcpenny is an example. They'll actually go to their own members of any kind of inside group and try to solicit from there rather then going to the general public," said Melanie Duquesnel, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving eastern Michigan.

Pollak said another red flag for her was how the job offer was presented.

"The only thing that didn't sound really legit was the way the guy worded it. He didn't sound really professional," said Pollak. "Some of the words weren't spelled correctly."

The BBB said if someone is asked to pay an upfront fee to get a job, 90 percent of the time that job is just a scam.

The Better Business Bureau has a list of the top ten scams crooks use. 

To see it, click here.

Mystery Shopper