At least one Roanoker has fallen victim to a secret shopping scam targeting the area, costing her $1,815, according to the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Virginia.
A company pretending to be Global Test Market in Rhode Island has been recruiting shoppers in the area to be “customer service evaluators,” according to a statement from the BBB. Global Test Market is a legitimate company, but it is based in Washington and has been alerting consumers on its website that its name is being used in the scam.
The job offer looks professional, the BBB said, and includes a schedule of secret shopping at Valley View Mall and names of other secret shoppers.
But before conducting secret shopping at retailers, the scammers tell recruits they will be evaluating the security and efficiency of MoneyPaks – prepaid cards that are used in place of wiring money. The scammers send its recruits a fraudulent check for up $4,000 and ask that it is deposited in the recruit’s bank account. The recruit is then supposed to take most of money (keeping a small percentage as their “salary”) and buy MoneyPaks, or another form of a prepaid card, and call the company with the card numbers. The scammers retrieve the money from the cards before the recruit is notified by their bank that the check has bounced.
Julie Wheeler, president of the BBB Serving Western Virginia, called the scam sophisticated and said the scammers have done enough work to make the offer look legitimate.
“It is very elaborate,” Wheeler said.
The BBB offers these tips to avoid becoming the victim of a secret shopping scam:
- Look for reputable firms that qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations.
- Ignore claims that you will make big profits easily.
- Be cautious of unsolicited e-mails or letters offering “work-from-home”
- Be wary of work-at-home companies that require up-front fees. Never give them your credit card or bank account numbers.
- Never wire money. Wiring money is the same as sending cash. Once the money is gone it is very difficult, if not impossible, to recover.
- Check out the company’s BBB Business Review athttp://www.bbb.org to see its BBB rating, complaint history and more.
- 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.