That old scam is making the rounds around here, and -- as usual -- people are still falling for it.
There is a legitimate job known as a "mystery shoppers" used by retailers throughout the United States. These are company employees unknown to the store workers who come into the store incognito, make purchases and then send a report to the Head Office on the cleanliness of the store, competency of the employees, courtesy shown and other things.
Basically company stooges and snitches.
The scam plays off on this.
In contrast to most of his ilk, the Secret Shopper Scammer doesn't usually use auto-dialers, mass e-mails or bulk faxes. What he does do ... is take out advertisements in the "Help Wanted" section of the local paper -- or has someone nail adverts to the local telephone poles -- "Part-Time Job!"
So, the poor pigeon calls the number in the newspaper and the friendly person on the other end asks them if the pigeon would do the company the greatest of favours and just check on the customer relationship aspect of the local business.
They've heard nothing but good things about the store! But, you know corporate VP's and all that .. and, oh, silly me -- we'll compensate you for your time!
So, the pigeon figures, "What the hell"; answers some questions and pretty soon the first compensation cheque arrives in the mail -- maybe a thousand, three thousand, whatever. Let us say it's for 500 USD.
As per instructions from the scammer, the pigeon either deposits this cheque into his bank account or cashes it, then hies himself to the local corporate store.
Once there, the pigeon takes diligent notes regarding cleanliness, friendliness, everything the scammer asked for -- ah, but the store offers Western Union service. Obviously, this must be checked also.
However, the scammer is courteous! It would be too much to ask for the pigeon to cough up his own money to check the Western Union system -- therefore, about half of the initial cheque is forwarded to Corporate -- the best way to check to see if the system works. So, the victim deposits $250 US in the Western Union system -- to be withdrawn anywhere in the world, by anyone with a proper code.
The rest of the cheque received by the victim is, of course, his salary.
The victim goes home, files a report with "Corporate HQ" -- along with the Money Retrieval Code (it is their money, right?) and is happy as a clam at high tide with his part-time job.
Unfortunately, the cheque is bogus -- or, worst case scenario -- forged.
When the cheque bounces -- and it will -- the bank will try again. Then they'll come to get their money back.
Guess who the bank -- or the defrauded citizen -- is going to get their money out of?
The scammer? Whom the pigeon only knows as a friendly voice a the end of a phone line -- which coincidentally is actually a VOIP number -- no, the scammer is well into the wind by now, and probably overseas.
Nope. The pigeon now owes the bank the $500 dollars. Or thousand, three thousand, however much. And, if the cheque was a forged one, he also faces criminal charges.
Don't fall for this one, folks.
For information on this, and other scams, visit Fakechecks.org.