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Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Mystery shopper' scheme grows

Ottawa police fraud detectives have a new scam blazing up their Top 10 chart and it targets the unemployed who are looking to make a quick buck.

The "mystery shopper" scheme, which didn't even crack the Top 10 last year, is considered the fifth-most prevalent fraud in Ottawa so far in 2008.

"That one is extremely big in Ontario," said Sgt. Ron Cooper of the organized fraud unit.

The scam starts with an advertisement looking for people to work from home. The scammer will hire someone to cash a cheque at a payday loan service to see if employees at the business are performing well.

The unsuspecting "mystery shopper" returns the bulk of the cashed cheque to the scammer and keeps a small amount as a payout for the gig. The problem is, the cheque is bogus and it bounces, making the hired hand liable for the full amount cashed out.

'EASY MONEY'

"People are looking for easy jobs, easy money," Cooper said.

"There's no way of knowing where the money went."

Fraudsters continue to profit off people's greed and naivete, Cooper said.

The top fraud in Ottawa continues to be identity theft, followed by credit card skimming, overpayment schemes and bogus cheques.

Contractor scams and lottery schemes have decreased over the past year, Cooper said, but the ploys still crack the Top 10 in Ottawa.

"People are starting to realize if you don't enter (a lottery), you don't win," Cooper said.

Cooper expects credit card technology using chips will roll back the number of skimming incidents investigated by the city's 16 fraud detectives.

It seems there's never shortage of work for fraud investigators.

"It works, so why would these scammers stop?" said Cpl. Louis Robertson of the national Phonebusters program.

NETWORKING DUPES

RCMP working in the Phonebusters anti-fraud office say they are seeing a growing number of people getting duped over social networking Internet sites.

Robertson said people are developing what they think are meaningful relationships and then they're suddenly being asked for money.

"It goes like that for months and months until you clue in or send $40,000," Robertson said.

"Stand back and ask why they are asking to send money."

People passing phoney cheques continue to keep fraud investigators busy.

"It is still probably the No. 1 financial problem in Canada," Robertson said.

In Ottawa, police are seeing more instances of criminals enlisting the help of the city's homeless to cash dirty cheques. The problem has spread since city cops first noticed an emerging trend in 2005.

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TOP 10

Ottawa police fraud squad's top 10 scams

1. Identity theft

2. Credit card skimming

3. Money wiring/overpayment schemes

4. Bogus cheques

5. Bogus employment offers ("mystery shopper")

6. Bogus charities and hard luck stories

7. Contractor scams (repairs and snow removal)

8. Internet scams

9. Lottery scams

10. Counterfeit money

Source: Ottawa Police Service

source : 'Mystery shopper' scheme grows

2 comments:

Tanzina said...

(4:56:56 PM) jagged edge: speaking of online shopping ... check out this user-generated mobile phone marketplace: http://www.cellbazaar.com



... you can find almost everything. mobile, car, motorcycle, mp3 player, camera, laptop, food, animals, real estate, house rent, job, tutor and much more --- there are like hundreds of categories containing a wide range of products and services ... just visit and see for yourself.



cheers.

Tanzina said...

Speaking of online shopping ... check out this user-generated mobile phone marketplace: http://www.cellbazaar.com



... you can find almost everything. mobile, car, motorcycle, mp3 player, camera, laptop, food, animals, real estate, house rent, job, tutor and much more --- there are like hundreds of categories containing a wide range of products and services ... just visit and see for yourself.



cheers.