Regrettably, thieves will attempt to turn every type of legitimate business into a scam, and mystery shopping is not immune. The Federal Trade Commission has a great write-up on what red flags to look out for.
Historically, the most common mystery shopping scam was the one that convinced victims that they had to pay a fee for being a part of a mystery-shopping network. Or, similarly, that the victim had to pay something to be licensed as a qualified mystery shopper. While there are legitimate certification services out there (notably MSPA), most mystery shopping companies do not require certified shoppers. Certification is about self-enrichment and education, not qualification. And any mystery-shopping network that requires a membership fee is one you should skip.
But recently, a new and even more devious method has emerged in which a scammer convinces victims that they are going to mystery shop a money wire service. The scammer will send large checks to the victims (often unsolicited) and tell them to cash it at their banks and then wire the cash to the scammer. What a victim doesn’t realize is that the check is fake and will inevitably bounce. The scammer will pressure the victim to wire the money quickly, before the bounce. In the end, the victim will be out a thousand dollars or more and having nothing to show for it. Or, similarly, the scammer has the victim purchase prepaid cash cards and send those through the mail. Once again, when the check bounces, the victim is left holding the bag. Either way, it’s outright theft.
As the FTC recommends, research a mystery shopping company before doing anything with them.
Rest assured, The Brandt Group will never ask our mystery shoppers to pay a membership fee or perform any financially risky shop. To become a shopper, head to http://www.thebrandtgroup.com/become-a-shopper, where you can learn more.Back to blog listing