Last Updated October 22nd, 2012

Don’t Fall For the Detective Shopper Scam

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 !

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.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 12th, 2010

When the Work at Home Company is Real, but the Job Isn’t

Spotting work at home scams isn’t all that easy at times. The more devious ones try to hide their nature by inserting legitimate appears features. A popular way that’s happening right now is with scammers using the names of legitimate mystery shopping companies to get people to cash their fraudulent cashier’s checks and send them the money.

It’s a pretty simple scam. They send you the cashier’s check, saying that it’s for you do do a mystery shop of the check cashing company. You are to cash the check, keep part of the money for yourself and send the rest to them by Western Union. The part you’re supposed to keep is enough to get many people interested because it sounds like such easy money.

The problem is that the check is fraudulent, and you will be responsible for the entire amount. The money you’ve sent to the scammers will be long gone by the time you find out that the check didn’t go through. If you’re already struggling financially, that’s a hard hit to take. It’s not a pleasant financial hit to take even if you aren’t struggling, as the amount is usually over $1000.

The trick is that they claim to be one of the legitimate mystery shopping companies. When you research the company name online, being an intelligent and responsible person, you see good things written about them from reputable sources. It’s one more step past the scam radar many people interested in working at home have developed.

However, it fails in one important area. The pay is too much for the type of work involved, often hundreds of dollars. No simple mystery shopping job is going to pay that much.

If you get something like this, and you aren’t sure what is happening, take some time and do some extra research.

First of all, did you ever contact the company that sent you the check, looking for work. If it’s out of the blue, it’s certainly not legitimate.

Second, contact the company using information on their website and ask them. They’ll tell you. Just be sure that you look up the legitimate website online so you aren’t contacting a fraudulent company looking for information. It’s good for them to be aware that their name is being used by someone else, even if there is often little they can do about it.

Third, don’t fall for a check cashing scam or mystery shopping scams. Mystery shopping opportunities do not come out of the blue. You sign up with the company and they show you opportunities available in your area, with strict instructions for when and how the shop must be completed. You must then accept the opportunity, and most expenses are reimbursed after the shop, not prepaid.

Be smarter than the people running the scams. Never let the dollar signs blind you to the research you should do before doing any work at home opportunity.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.