Mystery shopper scam sweeping Oklahoma

Thursday, January 17th 2008, 9:07 pm
By: News 9

By Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9

A mystery shopper scam is sweeping across Oklahoma and the nation.

The scam is disguised as an offer to become a mystery shopper.  You get paid to go into stores, shop, and in return, you measure their service.

Juanita Cook got the offer in the mail.

But this program, Mystery Shoppers PLC, said it's out of New York.  They went ahead and sent a check to get her started. The check is supposed to cover the cost of shopping at the mystery locations like K-mart, J.C. Penny's, Western Union and Money Gram.

Specifically they're asking you to spend $3,200 of it at one of the money wire services.

"It just doesn't make sense, why would you send $3,200," said Gary Cook, Juanita's son. "You could do it for $20.  They're going to give you the same service."

Gary guessed it, the money that's sent is going right back into the scammer's pockets. The check they originally paid you to cover your costs will bounce in about a week. This scam will leave you to pay $3,200.

"I showed the check to my bank and they said it looks very legitimate," Gary said. "It's going to take some people.  Some people are going to get taken for sure."

The check appears to be from a Fort Sill bank. The scammers are also using other bank names and the names of legitimate mystery shopping companies, like Corporate Research International.

Here are some tips not to get scammed:

  • A legit company won't ask you for up front fees.
  • Compare the contact info from the letter they send you to the company's Website.  If it's different, stay away from the offer.
  • Some legit mystery shopper organizations have joined what's called the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.

If you have a problem Amanda can help you with, call the Consumer Watch hot line at 841-9921.