Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Be Wary of Employment Scams

Beware "Mystery Shopper" Employment Offers

I subscribe to a daily email newsletter from the Consumerist. Very often it contains useful information that is relevant to human resource issues.

Today's newsletter contained an article on a Mystery Shopper scam.

The HR angle?

The fraudulent letter being sent to those people being scammed is offering employment as a mystery shopper and is signed by:

Director, Human Resources

Here is how the scam works, courtesy of the Consumerist:

Want to see what a secret shopper scam actually looks like? Tracey sent us
scans of the one that arrived in her mailbox today. It included a letter printed
on cut-and-paste letterhead, a form, and a check for $4,200. The idea behind
this sort of scam—also called an advance fee fraud or wire transfer scam—is to
get the victim to deposit the check, wait for it to clear, then wire back the
bulk of the money. Weeks or months later, the check will turn out to be fake,
and by law the victim owes the bank for the full amount of the check.

As much as we talk about this sort of thing on Consumerist, people
still fall for it all the time. Make sure your friends and family know how the
mystery shopper scam works so they can protect themselves from it.

My partner received something very interesting from
Canada in the mail today. It was a letter from "Experian Consumer Research Group" indicating that she'd shown an interest in being a "mystery shopper." The envelope also contained a realistic-looking check for $4,200. What was she supposed to do with that? Well, $400 was "Probation training first week pay." Other amounts were for mystery shopping at Wal-Mart, Sears and McDonald's. The biggest amount was
$3,620 for "Money Gram including service fees." Yep, a wire transfer

Googling the toll-free number in the letter brings up several sites
where other people have gotten letters with other cover stories.

I've attached a PDF of everything but the check. I would
imagine that Experian, BBB, JPMorgan Chase and other companies referenced in this scam would like to get a piece of these guys.

We also got quite a chuckle out of the "Fraud - Prevent It!" postmark in two languages.

Just thought your readers might find this interesting. We'll be turning our stuff over to our state attorney general's office.

Here is a link to a pdf file with full size copies of all relevant documents from the company purporting to be offering employment as a Mystery Shopper.

Comments about 8888321147 number:

Rating: 0 Gina - 5 Sep 2008
I had my nephew who is a wiz at computers do a search for me on this phone number and sure enough he found where someone else had report this number as a scam. The company name on the letter is TEAM ABSTRACT Myster Shopping & Consulting. The name on the check is Singlesource ood Service Distribution, which makes no sense! The check was in the amountof $3,880.00 of which I was to be paid $423.00, $40.00 to spend at Walmart, $25.00 to spend at Sears and then I was to send a wire from MoneyGram in the amount of $3,400.00 which included all fees. The address is 2416 Bristol Rd., SUite B, Bensalem, PA 19020 on the letter but the envelope was plain white with a sticker on it with this address: P. O. Box 6547MTL, QC H3V 1K9. I did call the toll free number and the extension I need was busy so it gave me an option to leave a message, which I did. My message to them was: THIS IS A SCAM!!!!!!!!
Caller: TEAM ABSTRACT Mystery Shopping & Consult
Caller Type: Commercial

Rating: 0 Rabbit - 9 Sep 2008
What do you know..I got a letter from Team Abstracting Mystery & Consulting with a check in the amount of $3888 as funds to cover my shopping assignment. I didn't apply for such a position. The check from a Gilbert Company (Plumbing contractor) with The Bank of River Oaks in Houston Texas. Looks legit, but too good to be true. I didn't apply to be a mystery shopper. Watch out folks, they are phising. Whew!

Rating: 0 zordok323@yahoo.com - 16 Sep 2008
Well, well, well. Thank you Gina for that info. I too received correspondence and was leary of this letter. Researched the Bank and Letter Head on said check. What concern me was the english (grammical errors)a professional secretary would not commit. Everything else was the same as yours, including phone number and address.

Rating: 0 judy - 9 Sep 2008
i got the same letter yesterday, i called as well it sounds ok but don't like the idea of having to show my social security # as to who i am.My husband said that i should do it but a little scary.

Rating: 0 mark - 23 Sep 2008
Don't give out your social security # to anyone unless you are applying for a loan.

Rating: 0 Brian - 17 Sep 2008
The scam is that they get you to spend a little and then send them 3,400.00 back. By the time you send it back the check has filtered through the bank system and comes up as fake. Then the bank hits you for the 3,888.00 on your account where you cashed the check. They have 3,400.00 and you are out 3,400.00 + 3,800.00 -423.00 - 40.00 -25.00 = $6,712.00 fund that you did not have before and have nothing to show for. Also now that you have read this and if you do it anywhere you are now doing something illegal because you know its fake. Therefore you could face charges if they know you knew it was fake and did it anyways. Have a nice day.
Caller: Team Abstract Mystery Shopping
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  1. I was recently contact by a news station in Hartford CT asking me to comment on this issue. They had said that there was a "300%" rise in job posting scams, though I don't know what source they were quoting. You can see the story that aired at the bottom of my blog, with some job seeker safety tips (yes, shameless self blog promotion!)

  2. @Jason

    I am adding your blog to my blog roll since I just realized it wasn't already there!

    Thanks for the comment.


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