Friday, October 24, 2008

Let's Be Careful Out There

Scam uses 'mystery shopper' hook to lure victims

05:36 PM PDT on Friday, October 17, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Surviving in our troubled economy is growing more challenging by the day and con artists are taking advantage of the situation.

One of the latest scams hitting Oregonians uses mystery shopping to rip off victims.

Legitimate mystery shoppers really do exist, stores sometimes hire them to survey how clerks treat customers.

Nicole Benson from Salem thought that’s what she was signing up for when she discovered a mystery shopping application on line.

Two weeks ago she got a letter in the mail saying she'd been hired and it included a $3,800 check.

She was instructed to deposit the check into her personal account, then test Walmart's moneygram service by wiring $3,400 back to the secret shopping company. She was allowed to keep 4 hundred dollars for her mystery shopping salary.

Benson said, “I felt really stupid at first, oh my god I can't believe I did this because my Mom said are you sure it's not a scam and I said well the check seems to be good?”

Four days later her bank learned the check was a phony. Benson’s personal bank account was frozen and now she is out $3,400. She says she can’t afford to pay her mortgage payment this month.

She's one of two victims in Marion county in the past two weeks.

In this case the crooks are hiding behind international lines in Canada so there is little local law enforcement can do.

Remember, anytime someone asks you to return money though a wire or moneygram, it should be a huge red flag that something is wrong.

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