3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Beware of secret shopper scams

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Secret shopper scam (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Secret shopper scam (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Recently 3 On Your Side warned viewers about the Nanny Scam, but there’s another one called the Secret Shopper Scam that works the same way and tricks a lot more people.

"Right now, I’m off work because I have to have surgery on my shoulder."

Forced to take a medical leave from her job, Johnita Bell wanted to make some extra cash. So she searched online and came across a business looking for what it calls "secret shoppers."

"I was told that secret shoppers is pretty good and you just go and do a little research on stores. I was like OK, I can do that."

So Bell filled out the application online and was immediately hired. As part of her secret shopping assignment, she was supposed to visit various restaurants like McDonald's, Subway and Starbucks and rank her customer service experience by ordering meals. But before she could get started her boss mailed her a check.

"Next thing I knew, there was a check in the mail, and they did say that I'd receive a cashier's check and to cash it and there would be instructions on what to do next," she said.

That check was for more than $1,900 and it came with a letter telling Bell to deposit the money into her bank account. That way she could pay for those meals while also paying herself for being a secret shopper. But according to Bell there was also a strange request. "They wanted me to wire one person $800 and another person $800," she said.

Wire money?? Bell went on to say: "I'm thinking, why would I have to wire them money if it's a job for me?"

Not sure what to do, Bell contacted 3 On Your Side. "I watch you all the time for different scams. It just sounded too good to be true."

She's right. We reached out to that so-called company but they never responded to our email. In fact when we dialed the number on their letter it had already been disconnected.

By the way, the check Bell received is bogus. So, it's a good thing she didn't deposit it, then wire money because her bank account would have been wiped out of every penny she wired.

"If it wasn't for me watching 3 On Your Side where they tell about the scams, I probably would’ve been one of the people that would’ve cashed it and been in a devastating situation," she said.

There are legitimate secret shopping jobs out there but you have to be very, very careful and remember the legitimate ones will never ask you to wire money.

For additional information about secret shopping scams visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0053-mystery-shopper-scams

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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