Secret shopper warning from the Better Business Bureau

Secret shopper or mystery shopper scams usually arrive disguised as genuine job offers; recently, Better Business Bureau has been receiving inquiries from consumers who’ve received suspicious emails and letters from alleged “employers.”

With most mystery shopper job offer scams, cashiers’ checks and letters arrive in the mail.

“Congratulations! You have been selected as a mystery shopper for your area! Deposit the enclosed money order into your personal bank account and shop at the following stores … [large, well-known retailers] … rating your experience with customer service, product availability and cleanliness; wire-transfer the remaining balance back to company headquarters.”

A variation of overpayment scams, mystery shopper schemes leave depositors on the hook for the total amount when counterfeit checks ultimately bounce.

“When someone deposits a check, he or she is responsible for that check whether or not it is known that the check is a fake,” says Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington.

Employ caution when considering mystery shopper job opportunities and avoid offers that:

  • Require upfront payments or money-wiring
  • Lack verifiable contact information
  • Contain unrealistic or unsubstantiated earnings claims


Visit for more information on job scams.


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