I’ve written in the past about secret/mystery shopper scams. They aren’t as uncommon as I would like, not by a long shot. I received an email the other day, calling it a detective shopper position. A small change in name, but the same old scam.

You have been selected for assignment as a Detective Shopper in your area,
and You will get $200 being a Detective Shopper.Your employment packet
will include funds for the shopping. We want you to participate because
it’s fun & rewarding.
You will have access to training materials.

Provide the following details if you interested:

– Name (first/last):
– A d d r e s s:
– State, City, Zipcode:
– Num. Phone/cell:
– A g e:
– S e x:
– O c c u p a t i o n:
– Alt. E-mail:

As a Detective Shopper You work and shop together for pleasure,
and You only work 2-3 hours twice in a week.

We wait your good response, Thank You !

Regards,
Hiring Manage

Now, I haven’t contacted them personally, but I think I know where this one is going. The usual routine on these is to offer a high rate of pay, then have the supposed detective shopper cash what appears to be a perfectly valid cashiers check or money order at their local Walmart. It isn’t, however, although these are generally well enough faked to fool the employee at the bank cashing it. You might even be told to make a few purchases at the store while you’re at it.

You’re supposed to keep your pay and send the excess back (a few thousand dollars, usually) to the person claiming to be your employer for this job. They’re probably in another country, of course, as that makes them really hard to prosecute when the scam is revealed.

Here’s the big problem for anyone who falls for this. You end up responsible for the money when the check or money order turns out fraudulent. There’s no way to get the money back, but the bank expects you to pay it back.

There are plenty of clues in the email alone. First and foremost, I never applied for such a position. Employers don’t just tell you that you have an assignment when you never applied with them for one of these jobs. They don’t even know my name yet, never mind the most basic of contact information any place you’ve applied with would already know.  That goes on most applications, after all. Second, the rate of pay is WAY too high. Legitimate mystery shopping jobs don’t pay that much for so little work. Most don’t pay all that well, and they’re absolutely picky about where and when you do your shop.

If you’re interested in mystery shopping, there are places to find legitimate employers. My list of mystery shopping companies is one place to start.