Mystery Shopper Scam Can Steal Money
December 12, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – During the holiday season, scammers are targeting Arkansans who may be looking to make some extra money. These con artists often use the so-called mystery shopper scam to take Arkansans’ hard-earned money, with the promise of getting more in return.
“Mystery shopping is a legitimate opportunity that retailers use to evaluate their services,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Although this scam has different variations, becoming a mystery shopper does not cost anything upfront, and retailers will not contact potential mystery shoppers on an unsolicited basis. Arkansans should be wary of any organization asking for money prior to making mystery shopper work assignments and should ignore mystery shopper checks and instructions asking the consumer to deposit the money, purchase gift cards, and then send all or a portion to a third party.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following list from the Federal Trade Commission of red flags that a mystery shopping opportunity may not be legitimate:
- The opportunity is advertised in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email.
- The business requires “certification” to be purchased ahead of time.
- A mystery shopper job is guaranteed.
- A website charges a fee to access mystery shopping opportunities.
- A directory of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for purchase.
- The seller asks to deposit a check and wire some or all of the money to a third party.
The Mystery Shopping Providers Association offers a database search of mystery shopper assignments and how to apply for them. The organization offers certification programs for a fee, but the certification is not needed to look or apply for assignments in the database.
Arkansans should avoid wiring money to strangers or anyone outside the country and should never send prepaid gift cards or give the serial number of a loaded gift card based on any unsolicited phone call.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.