Monday, March 27, 2017

Wal-Mart Secret Shopper Scam

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.



1 comment:

  1. I am a mystery shopper recruiter for Premier Service in Montreal, Canada and I just came across this article. I feel terrible for anyone who would be scammed in the manner described within this article. I have no doubt that the mystery shopping industry is very much legit and that there are many reputable mystery shopping companies (much unlike the company in this article). Stores and restaurants all over the world use mystery shoppers to assess the level of service in their establishments. A legitimate mystery shopping company will never ask you to cash a cheque, nor would they charge a fee to mystery shop for them. If you ever receive an unsolicited cheque in the mail, do not cash it! Report it to the police. You should only sign up to shop for companies that are members of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association or MSPA (mysteryshop.org). In business since 1992, Premier Service is a member of the MSPA, along with many other associations. Please do not let these negative experiences detract from this legitimate industry. You really can “get paid to shop!” But always remember – if something sounds too good to be true – it probably is! You are more than welcome to sign up at http://www.premierservice.ca. We’d love to have you join our team!

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