Secret Shopper Scam
[UPDATE BELOW 9/7/19] 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 atext 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 email@example.com
You are expected to secretly perform the shopping operation listed above. E-mail me here firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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.
We received the following email from a TDS reader. It was sent to him from a Gmail user, NOT from anyone at Kroger.com. We especially loved the job requirement “Minimum understanding of paperwork handling.”
From: <pradnyazunjarrao18 “@” gmail.com>
Subject: Career G/1801159277\200
Date: April 25, 2018 at 5:23:50 AM EDT
Hi! Our Company is returning back to you regarding request on a CareerBuilder I have seen that you match our requirements for vacancy of Logistic manager.
Pay rate: will be paid monthly of $2,550 and after probation period is $3,250 a month. This is based at home half-day \ Full time work. Also you will have a brilliant and comprehensive package of benefits which include a 401(k) package, stock purchase pack, etc.
Main tasks are: anytime access to a online Task Panel with your duties during the day time, receiving and shipment of the goods with prepaid labels, collaboration with a supervisor.
be detailed oriented, well organized
Must have computer knowledge
Minimum understanding of paperwork handling
If you think you are ready to take the first step and begin the hiring process, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your cell phone number and you’ll be reached by our HR manager shortly.
If you still have any questions you can provide us with your phone number to the e-address which mentioned above and one of our managers also will reach you back.
The link in the email pointed to a job recruiting site in Australia, as if that would add credibility. The job recruiter had been hacked. Clicking the link sent us to this page:
NEVER give these people your personal information.
We have heard from several people this December about invitations to apply for a “Mystery Shopper” position. However, the evidence is clear that the person is not who they claim to be and they don’t represent the company whom they claim to represent. Here is a recent example. On December 17, 2018 one of our readers received the following invitation from the email address “premuim44 “@” umass.edu.” But the “reply-to” address was for a different email located on an email server in Canada:
We are accepting candidates to work as qualitative research contractors/agents. The position is part-time & flexible, we pay $299.00 for each research completed and a minimal of 2 jobs
per week. We provide detailed, personalized assistance for all of our agents. We focus on accuracy, objectivity, clarity.
Our agents must be able to not only collect data but report and record that data in a legible, logical, consistent and timely manner. If any of our agents fails to meet our high standards of quality,
that agent will be removed from the project.
If you wish to Register with us, send a reply with the following information below:
Your response would be greatly appreciated, Thank you.
The criminals using this scam as an excuse for their fake “advance check” scam have now moved on to target Walgreens! Check out this email that appears to have come from Walgreens.com. “Career Opportunities” and “Secret Customers Needed.” Look at how much the recipient is told he will be paid to shop! It’s unbelievable. The link for “Start Your Application” points to an ad agency in Dubai that was hacked. The criminals correctly spoofed the FROM email address to look like Walgreens. However, we looked at the REPLY-TO address only to find that they purposely misspelled Walgreens so that any email you might send will go to the domain “wlagreens.com.” (This domain was registered by someone in Panama almost 17 years ago!) Look below at the questions you’ll be asked when you apply online to this bogus job!
Apparently the criminals pretending to offer “Secret Shopper” jobs for Walgreens are at it again. On September 7 the following email arrived into one of our honeypot accounts…. Another offer to apply for a job with Walgreens! If you look closely, you’ll find a 2-letter country code showing that he email came through an email server in Germany. Also, a mouse-over of the link “Start your application” points to a website called ktaru[.]com….
Lots of people have reported on Secret Shopper scams for years. Here are just a few links: