3OYS: Beware of fake 'secret shopping' checks

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz -- An east Valley woman was looking to make a few extra dollars working at home. But the job that appeared too good to be true almost emptied her wallet.

For Vanessa Pearl, being a good mom to her young son is everything. The single mom does her best to make ends meet. “I am designing a jewelry line, and I do stained glass," she says.

But Vanessa needed something a little more stable so she posted her resume online. Soon she was contacted by a company claiming to be German-based Globis Management Consulting, a company that said it had an opportunity for her.

According to Vanessa, she was told: "You can earn up to $250 for this assignment if the turnaround time is 24 hours."

The assignment was this: the company would send her two checks totaling $2,900 and she was supposed to go undercover as a consumer. But first, she was supposed to put the money on something called a "reload it card."

Vanessa shared with 3 On Your Side the instructions she was given: "Go to Walmart and purchase the 'reload it cards,' and you need to purchase five of them, and you need to make them in the amount of $500 each."

Vanessa was supposed to buy a few items to test customer service and then provide the company the 16 digits on the back of the card to return some of the money. 

But something didn't feel right. Vanessa wound up calling the bank whose name appeared on the checks just to verify everything was good to go. "They asked me how much money the checks were for and I told them roughly $2,800, and she kind of laughed and said whoa no, there are definitely not enough funds."

The checks were fake, meaning by the time her bank told her they were phony, she would have already sent the money back to the scammer when she gave him the 16 digit code.

Globis, which is actually a legitimate company, issued an alert  saying "There are currently scam-activities in relation to Globis mystery shopping services taking place, mainly from Russian e-mail accounts like Yandex."

"I would've gotten totally scammed," says Vanessa.

And Vanessa has a warning for others. "Don't jump into anything," she says. "And if it sounds like it is the absolute answer to your prayers, look again, look again and look again."