‘Highly-paid’ mystery shopper assignments where you’re sent cashier’s checks upfront can end up costing you a lot of money.
I talked about mystery shopper scams here about a year ago, but Mich Kabay recently drew my attention to another example of this subset of the job scam species, and I thought it was worth a reminder, especially as he went to the trouble of flagging for his students at Norwich University (the one in Vermont, not the one in the UK) the points he considered exemplified a phishing attack.
In brief, a mystery shopper scam is one that offers you serious money to go to a retail outlet and pose as a shopper in order to report on your customer experience. We’ll get onto how the scam actually works in a moment.
As I haven’t taken any of his courses, I can’t say what his observations on these points would be, but here, for what it’s worth, are mine.
- Mystery shopper jobs exist, but mystery shopper scams are probably far more common, and victims may lose thousands of dollars, according to the Better Business Bureau.
- There are no free lunches: jobs that offer lots of money for people with no skills for doing not very much are very suspicious indeed. $600 an hour? I wish I earned that much… In fact, you’d be doing well to get much more than $100 a day for a mystery shopper job.
- Another very common scam offering lots of money for no skills is the ‘financial manager’ type of job offer which usually turns out to be aimed at recruiting money mules.
- Clearly, part of the point here is to get hold of the ‘registration’ data. However, a typical scenario with this kind of scam is that the scammer sends you a cashier’s check to cover your expenses for testing a service, and requires you to wire the money to them within a short time. However, as previously discussed on this blog concerning a different scam, it can take a week or more in the US before a cashier’s check shows up as forged, and the scammer will pressure you to wire the money long before that. When the bank realizes that the check is worthless, you – the aspirant mystery shopper – will be held responsible and charged by the bank for the amount the bank has lost.
ESET Senior Research Fellow