Secret shopper checks a scam

Getting paid to shop sounds too good to be true – and it is.
The scam originating on the Internet solicits people to be paid as a secret shopper. Once a person signs up, they are sent a check to cash.
A local woman received a check of $2,910 to be a “customer service evaluator.” She was instructed to purchase $300 of items at Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney and to evaluate the customer service at those stores. Another $400 was for her training and expenses, and the rest of the $2,100 was to be sent back to the company in a $110 money gram. The problem is the checks are fictitious and victims cashing the checks are responsible for the bank overdrafts.
Richmond Apple Market co-owner Bob MacDonald said the woman came into his store Monday to show him the check and to see if it was authentic. MacDonald, who has been stung by this scam in the past, told her it was a fraud and to report it to the Richmond Police Department.
Richmond Detective Scott Bagley said the department is sending the police report to the FBI.
“It came by the way of Canadian post with no return address. She didn’t lose anything, but we forward these to the FBI. Most are outside the U.S. – in Canada and Nigeria,” Bagley said, which is beyond local jurisdiction.
Bagley said the check was made out to the woman with a company name of SurveyShack and Marketing Services. The bank named on the check was Union State Bank in Kewaunee, Wis. On its Web site, Union State Bank has issued a scam alert for this particular hoax and warns people not to cash the checks.
Internet and email-based scams are all too common, with the police department receiving at least two complaints a week, Bagley said.
One scam revolving around a Nigerian trust fund has financially exploited another local woman with threats on her life.
“They’re sending her hate mail, death threats all by the way of email,” Bagley said, after the woman stopped sending payments and contacted police last week.
The woman was initially notified that a deceased woman with estates of $6 million and $42 million left her money. “Attorneys” contacted her about her inheritance and asked for money for processing fees and the affidavit costs. The woman has given police over $25,000 in receipts of payment to the Nigerian scam during a two-year period. She has told police she has lost $100,000 from the fraud, however.
“They kept sending her fictitious documents and kept going through processing and anti-terrorist clearance,” Bagley said, until the local woman realized it was a scam.
Bagley said he will personally contact the FBI on the Nigerian scam case.

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