Abingdon Police Department
For Immediate Release
Wal-Mart Secret Shopper Scam
A secret shopper scam targeting Wal-Mart customers, which has been around since at least 2011, has resurfaced in our area. A citizen received a letter, a survey, and a check (see below) in the mail saying they had been chosen to participate in the Secret Shopper program. THIS IS A SCAM!
Reports of this scam have started circulating on Facebook and other parts of the internet, from people who have gotten checks in the mail. The scam starts with a legitimate looking check, usually for an amount of up to $2,400.00, which is mailed to a consumer. The check is supposed to be used at Wal-Mart to purchase items as part of their secret shopper program, a program that pays random people to shop at their local store and rate their experience through a survey.
A letter that comes with the check directs the reader to a registration website, which requires several items of personal information including name, address, phone number, Social Security Number, and in some cases a driver's license number.
The program is a SCAM – and the personal information collected will provide the scammer everything they need to commit a number of crimes including identity theft or financial fraud. If you're curious, the checks themselves are worthless.
"Fraudsters are sending fraudulent solicitations via mail, print, text, and e-mail to entice consumers to evaluate the retail experience, products and services at stores, including Wal-Mart," the retail giant said in a warning on their corporate website.
"This mystery shopper scam uses fraudulent offers, fake checks and wire transfers to persuade unsuspecting consumers into sending money to fraudsters who are often located outside the U.S.," the warning adds.
Bottom line: "Wal-Mart does NOT utilize these services."
The scam itself has existed for several years. In 2014, the scam reached a point that required a wider public notice, so Wal-Mart implemented their own fraud alert, and the Better Business Bureau of Alabama (due to a number of complaints) issued their own warning.
In 2011, the consumer watchdog website Consumerist warned readers about the scam after a jobless victim in Los Angeles, CA had $4,000 stolen from him. The website issued a follow-up reminder in 2015 when the scam once again started to circulate.
If you or someone you know finds one of these letters in the mailbox, or a similar offer in your email or through a job-hunting website, PLEASE IGNORE IT.
****Remember, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.