Mystery Shopping Company Scam
[February 18, 2009] The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that thieves are using the name of a legitimate mystery shopping company to scam people across the country.
The owner of Measure Consumer Perspectives, Kimberly Nasief, has received calls from consumers all over the U.S. who say they received a hefty check from her company along with a letter stating they have been chosen for two mystery shopping assignments. The letter looks legitimate with the company’s logo and a reference to the company being a BBB Accredited Business.
So far, the BBB has received one local complaint related to this scam, but it expects to hear from more consumers. The local man is apparently out $8,000. He wired the money to Canada.
The letter being sent to consumers states they have 7 days to finish the two assignments. One assignment includes evaluating a wiring service (Western Union or Money Gram). The consumer is told to take the check they were sent, keep a portion of it and wire the rest of the money back to them. The check is fake and the consumer is out the money.
The letter has a phone number included, which is located in Quebec. When Nasief called, she got a voicemail with her company’s name on it. The scammers called her back and when she told them who she was, they hung up on her.
Apparently, the scam artists are focusing on consumers who have posted resumes on job search sites. They are using the address on the job seeker’s resume to send out the letters.
Measure Consumer Perspectives is a BBB Accredited Business based out of Louisville, KY. Nasief says, “My company does not send checks to engage consumers in mystery shopping. Any mystery shopping offer that involves the wiring of money is a scam.” Her company is working with the BBB, Mystery Shopper Providers Association, the Federal Trade Commission, and the FBI to get the matter resolved.
If you have fallen victim to this scam, the BBB suggests you contact your local FBI office. The BBB will accept complaints related to this scam, but they cannot be formally processed. BBB will forward them to the FBI for their information and possible law enforcement action.
Mystery shopping is a valuable tool used by some of the largest retailers, restaurants, and banks to understand and enhance the experience they provide to customers. Unfortunately, thieves are using this type of business to scam consumers on a daily basis.
Mystery shopping is not a quick and easy way to make a large sum of money and receive “freebies.” The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) has developed the following tips for those interested in becoming a mystery shopper:
For more information on mystery shopping, go to the BBB website at www.Nashville.BBB.org or call 615-242-4222.
- Prospective shoppers do not have to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper. Shoppers should be extremely wary of any mystery shopping offer that requests a fee.
- Visit the MSPA Web site (www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers) for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities. Contact the companies directly, not the MSPA, for more information on how to become a shopper.
- Be patient. It takes time, sometimes months or even longer, to be contacted with an offer to conduct a shopping assignment.
- Be cautious of opportunities that offer large sums of money for simple tasks like cashing a check or wiring money. A typical mystery shopping evaluation will earn about $8 to $20. If an assignment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The BBB of Middle Tennessee, Inc. was founded in 1961 as a non-profit Tennessee organization serving 38 counties in Middle Tennessee and 7 counties in Southern Kentucky. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada.
Serving as the 'ethical gatepost' of our communities, BBB fosters and promotes ethical business practices and self-regulation standards that build consumer trust in the marketplace. BBB services include business reliability information, complaint resolution services and consumer and business educational information. In 2008 BBB Nashville handled over 4.0 million services requests via our web site www.Nashville.BBB.org.
About the MSPA
With more than 275 member companies worldwide, the MSPA has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry, educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service, improve the image of the industry, and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospective clients.
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