Consumer Alert: Don't Fall For Mystery Shoppping

5:42 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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Undated -- Who doesn't want to make a little extra money on the side?

That's why those ads promising big bucks for stuffing envelopes or becoming a mystery shopper seem so enticing.
But it might be a scheme.  Be careful.

"The payment in this envelope is made out to you in respect of the mystery shopper position you applied for," says Glen McKenchnie, a U.S. Postal Inspector  

Thousands of people are getting letters in the mail like this one promising hundreds of dollars.

"The person at home may think they have won a lottery or that their prayers have been answered and now they are working from home."

The reality is, McKechnie says, "behind the advertisements, are scams."

The conartists tell you, you'll either be evaluating the quality of service in a store or testing a product. The envelopoe they send usually includes a counterfeit check or money order you're supposed to cash. Next step: go shopping for the product you'll be evaluating. 

"Once they buy the items they are told to keep the items and mail the additional money back to the scammer."

The problem: the checks are counterfeit. The money victims send back ends up coming out of their account.

"They are responsible for the money lost." Postal inspectors say consumers need to be on the look out.

"That solicitation can say anything, as long as there is an attractive hook to it and it's accompanied by a check."

Two pieces of advice: Contact the Better Business Bureau to check out any business that tries to solicit you.

And never send money back to anyone who sends you a check or money order unless you know exactly who they are and you're certain they are legitimate.

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