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Monday, September 01, 2008

Consumer Alert - Mystery shopper scam

SARASOTA - With the tight job market, getting an offer to make thousands of dollars just to go shopping sounds good. It's an offer a Sarasota woman recently got...but we found it's a scam.

Darleen Keller was suspicious from the beginning. She started getting letters in the mail offering her big money to go shopping. "Why somebody would be paying me this money to do shopping? It didn't make any sense."

The checks look very real. The deal sounds very good.

A company called Consumer Market Research sent Darleen a letter offering her a job to be a mystery shopper. The letter says all you have to do is take some of the money they're sending you, and shop at one of several stores they list. Then they want to train you to do a financial transaction.

They want you to deposit their check into your bank account, go to a company that wires money, and send them $3,200. The check says it's from the State Employers Credit Union in Maryland.

According to the Credit Union's's a scam, and the check is fake.

"You should check it out thoroughly and make sure the check is valid before you try and cash it and it's not a valid check. You could be somewhat in trouble too, saying you're cashing a bad check," says Lt. Chuck Lesaltato of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

According to the trade group that many real mystery shopping providers belong to, in these scams, the cashier's check bounces and you're liable for the money you've wired...usually to a foreign country.

They say mystery shopping is not a quick and easy way to make big money. They say real mystery shoppers make modest money, and will never have to pay to get work.

If you're interested in being a mystery shopper, there's a website where you can learn more: You can see what jobs are available in our area and register to be a shopper. Many companies will ask you to write an essay and apply. We checked and found most assignments pay anywhere from $10 to $100.

Article Source : Consumer Alert - Mystery shopper scam

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