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Job Hunters Conned By Mystery Shopping Scammers

York [US] Police's fraud unit cautioned job seekers trying to make a fast buck by responding to online "secret shopper" advertisements promising quick and easy jobs.

Time and again "secret shopper" ads can be seen on the internet. But the trouble is that majority of these advertisements are fraudulent.

While explicating the modus operandi of a mystery shopper fraud, security experts said that it normally begins with an online or email advertisement claiming to pay self-employed shoppers for evaluating a service or product trialing.

As soon as a person replies to the advertisement, bogus cheques ranging between $1,000 and $5,000 arrive, directing the receiver to work as a secret shopper, assessing the functioning of a wire agency and return a part of the cheque to the firm. The clients are then asked to retain the balance amount as remuneration for their secret shopping services.

Since the contact details of a genuine secret shopping firm are given, customers are deceived into believing that the cheque is genuine. When the scam is detected, customers have already spent a certain amount of money from their own pockets to the con artists. Customers are then held liable for the bogus cheque (which has bounced), by the company.

As per York's Central Fraud Unit Detective Sergeant, Mike Elliott, previously, several persons have lost more than $20,000-$30,000 in this specific scam, as reported by Vaughantoday on January 4, 2008.

Elliott advises people to first carry out a comprehensive background check of the firm giving a job as secret shopper. In addition, Elliot asks people to verify the genuineness of the cheque before banking them.

The police is attempting to find out the source of origin of these cheques, but the vastness of the Internet has made it a very difficult task for the police, told Elliot.

Consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau (BBB) (US) also advises customers to be skeptical of secret shopping ads, especially those which assure employments. The victims of these online frauds are requested to notify at http://www.chicago.bbb.org/.

Related article: Job Seekers Warned of Online Scams

» SPAMfighter News - 1/19/2009

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