Looking to make a little extra cash? Love to shop and eat out? Someone’s read your mind. Welcome to the world of mystery shopping, the letter says. Take the enclosed check and spend it at restaurants and stores. Evaluate their services and products. Keep a couple hundred bucks for your trouble. Wire the excess funds back to us. Nice work, if you can get it.
You deposit the check (Wow, $2,500!), go out to Red Lobster and order the endless shrimp feast. The food is good, but the waitress is slow on the refills, so you give the place a 7 out of 10. Then you move on to the mall and buy pair of shoes and a latte.
You’ve had a full night and you’ve spent $125 of someone else’s money. You start to wonder if you can turn this mystery shopping deal into a full-time job. As instructed, you keep a little money for yourself and wire the rest back to the company the next day.
This is where the dream job turns into a nightmare.
The bank calls. The check for $2,500? It’s a fake, and the money you wired has been deducted from your account.
Real mystery shopping companies do exist. For more information on how to spot mystery shopping scams and identify legitimate mystery shopping opportunities, visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association www.mysteryshop.org