We are sometimes contacted by people who have been offered a job as a Secret Shopper or Mystery Shopper. In every instance we have been asked to evaluate, the offer has been nothing more than an advance-check scam. Recently, a woman we’ll call “Lisa,” sent us this message and images…
“I responded to an ad about being a secret shopper and then I received a
text message from phone# (409) 220-5971. I Googled the number and found
your article. I received this package in the mail today and it came with a money order. I was asked to deposit it into my bank, then go to Walmart. I need to make a purchase of $10 or less, keep a portion for myself and then transfer the rest to another person using the Walmart Money Order service.
I then got this text as soon as it arrived:
The Secret Shopper Assignment Package was delivered to your address today.
Kindly follow the instruction in the letter enclosed to carry out the
Assignment. When are you going to complete the Assignment? Please reply
Attached are the pictures of what I received. I did NOT deposit anything or
respond to the text message. Please let me know what you think I should do with this.”
The postal money order was for $988.00, just below the $1000.00 limit on a postal money order.
Lisa sent us a photo of her instructions (see below) but we’ve reprinted it here so that search engines can find it for others who might search for key phrases:
Attn: Esteemed Secret Shopper,
Congratulations on becoming a new member of our elite team of secret shoppers. Please follow the instructions below.
- You just received the 1pc of Money Order and the Money Order is left blank so that you can fill it to avoid any mistake, this covers all expenses including evaluation, shopping, transport and your commission for this Survey. You are to cash it at your Bank only for record purposes.
- FILL IN “JAMES ABBOTT” AT THE FROM COLUMN.
- FILL IN “96219 LONG ISLAND, FERNANDINA BEACH FL 32034” AT THE ADDRESS COLUMN UNDERNEATH THE FROM COLUMN
- FILL IN YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION AT THE PAY TO: AND ADDRESS COLUMN
- Your Commission for this Asignment is $150 part payment, and deduct another $20 for sending fee and $10 for Walmart Evaluation at the nearest WALMART location.
ASSIGNMENT (A) WALMART EVALUATION:
Take the said $10; Purchase and Keep any product you need for yourself from the nearest Walmart of any Store of your choice. Once done, you need to send these details to my email listed below. 1) The Name and Address of store evaluated. 2) Product Purchased and how much it cost. 3) Customer Service Professionalism.
ASSIGNMENT (B) MONEYGRAM ASSESSMENT:
At the same Walmart Store or Moneygram Locatin; Make a Transfer of $808 to another Shopper to evaluate the Receiving section of another Moneygram at this Location
ANTHONY WOMACK/ADDRESS: 4610 S Coulter St, Amarillo, TX 75067……….send $808 here via Moneygram or Walmart to Walmart
Kindly send the requested info below to this e-mail email@example.com
- Sender’s Full Name as writton the Receipts
- The Moneygram or Walmart Reference Numbers of the Funds($808) sent
- How long does it take you to have the funds wired?
- How many Minutes is Moneygram location to your home?
- Is the Environment conducive?
Please send Store and Moneygram Evaluation report to this e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
You are expected to secretly perform the shopping operation listed above. E-mail me here email@example.com and text me here (409)220-5971(Text Only) once you receive this Package and I hope you can complete the Assignment today.
There are so many red flags here that scream fraud. Let’s take them apart one by one.
- Red flag #1
James Abbott (or whatever his name is) quickly sends $988 to Lisa without so much as a phone interview, Skype session or even any evidence that he conducted a background check on Lisa before sending her almost a grand. Real people don’t do that. Scammers routinely do that because it isn’t real money.
- Red flag #2
The postal envelope came to Lisa with the following return address:
Buffalos Theater Restaura
311 Delaware Ave
Tamarac FL 33321
An easy Google search of this address shows that there is no such street in Tamarac, Florida. However, there is a 311 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York and a theater there whose Chez ami history is detailed in this website called “ForgottonBuffalo.com”
- Red flag #3
James Abbott sent a postal money order for $988 that Lisa is supposed to deposit and then transfer $808 of it to Anthony Womak in Amarillo, Texas. The money order has serial number 24138486707. Fortunately, the Postal Service provides a site for visitors to verify money orders at https://mois.usps.com We used it to inquire about this serial number. We’re sure you can guess what we learned. That money order doesn’t exist to the Postal Service.
- Red flag #4
Not that we need any more red flags, but we want to point out that James Abbot is using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. GMX.com is a free email service and James has chosen to use the name “shopperevaluator.” He could just as easily have chosen “I-am-Donald-Trump.” If he were legitimate, his email would be from a legitimate company, with an address and company credentials that can be verified.
And then there is his telephone number, (409)220-5971 which he asks to be used for texting only. As in, don’t call me because I don’t want you to hear or record my voice. We’ve reported on this scammer using this same phone number in our article called The Anti-Scam Crusader. www.thedailyscam.com/anti-scam-crusader/ But we’re not alone, others have reported this number on 800notes.com [LINK: http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-409-220-5971 ] as a likely source of fraud.
Lots of people have reported on Secret Shopper scams for years. Here are just a few links: