3 On Your Side

Alert: Beware of fake checks in your mailbox

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Tanya Christman, a Goodyear resident, said she received a $2,195 check that was part of a scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Tanya Christman, a Goodyear resident, said she received a $2,195 check that was part of a scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Out of nowhere, Christman got a text message telling her to expect this envelope in the mail. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Out of nowhere, Christman got a text message telling her to expect this envelope in the mail. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
According to the instructions, Christman was supposed to deposit all that money into her own bank account and then go to Walmart to simply evaluate the store's customer service. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) According to the instructions, Christman was supposed to deposit all that money into her own bank account and then go to Walmart to simply evaluate the store's customer service. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

A Goodyear woman gets a big surprise in her mailbox: a check for more than $2,000. But there are consequences if she deposits it.

Tanya Christman has a real mystery on her hands.

"I don't know how they got my phone or address," she said.

Out of the clear blue, the Goodyear woman got a text message telling her to expect this envelope in the mail and inside, there were instructions for her so-called "first evaluation assignment." 

"They were wanting to me to do like a secret shopper for Walmart,” Christman said.

Christman was surprised. She never even looked into being a secret shopper. Still, what was inside the envelope piqued her curiosity. First, there were those instructions.

The instructions read: "Your evaluation for this assignment will be Walmart."

But there was also a cashier’s check for $2,195, and Christman says that got her husband's attention.

“He sees a check and he's all excited because it's for $2,195,” said Christman.

According to the instructions, Christman was supposed to deposit all that money into her own bank account and then go to Walmart to simply evaluate the store's customer service.

She was then instructed to answer questions like, "How well were you treated" at Walmart, but Christman knew it was all a scam.

“I wanted to contact you guys and let you know that there's another weird scam out there and somebody that’s in dire straights or young and not know would probably do it," she said.

Had Christman actually gone through with the instructions, her next assignment would have been to evaluate the customer service at Western Union by wiring money from that cashier's check she just deposited.

By the time her bank realized the cashier's check was fake, Christman would have already wired the money and her bank account would have been wiped out.

"Twenty years ago, I probably would've taken the check and run to the bank," said Christman.

Walmart has posted information warning consumers about the scam. As for Christman, she can't believe how convincing the fake check looks and how persuasive the scammers can be.

"It means that they're getting smarter. It means that people are taking a step back and looking at things. They're being very smart," Christman said.

There are legitimate secret shopping jobs out there, but they are few and far between. Our advice, stay away from them or you could get burned.

For more information on secret shopping scams visit the following links:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0053-mystery-shopper-scams

http://corporate.walmart.com/privacy-security/fraud-alerts/

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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