Beware of secret shopper scams - KMSP-TV

Beware of secret shopper scams

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

Any chance to make a little extra money before the holidays is welcome, but sometimes there is a fine line between making money and losing money.

Some retailers hire people to go into a store to check out its customer service. For your trouble you make a small amount of money.  It's when you're offered a lot of money that you should say, "wait a minute."

Shanty Watson received a check for $2,194.00 after signing up online to work for Ace Shoppers.  She thought she'd been hired to secretly shop at local retailers, reporting back about customer service.

"I've been actively looking for the past of months now," said Watson.

She was thrilled, and she had strict instructions.

"She said to deposit that check into my account and once I did that, in 24 hours, it'll be active," said Watson.

Watson's high-paying, new part-time job came tumbling down before she got into trouble.  

"Went to the bank and they said, ‘No ma'am, you won't be able to do that.  It's a fraudulent check,'" said Watson.

Without even talking to her, Fred Elsberry of the Atlanta BBB says he can tell you that next she would have been asked to shop for a few items, then send a large chunk of the money back to her employer.  

"Most of this money we want you to wire back to us by Western Union 'cause we want to see how good their service is. And so you wire that money back," explained Elsberry.

According to the National Consumers League there is a spike in secret shopper scams. Elsberry says this is how it generally works.

"The interesting thing is that these people have stolen the bank account number from the company that's on the check. So, if you go to the bank, they'll tell you that's a legit account for that particular company," said Elsberry.

Had the bank not caught this, Watson would have been responsible for paying back nearly $2,000 to the bank. Furious, she called "Ace Shoppers."

"I said, I'm going to report you to FOX 5 and she hung up! And every time I called she kept hanging up," said Watson.

An I-Team investigation connects Ace Shoppers from the Bronx, NY  to another secret shopper company with the same address: Value Shoppers. According to the New York BBB, they're "scammers (who) defrauded consumers of large amounts of money" through the same scheme.

The National Consumers League says that a legit company will never ask you to do a money transfer.  

"I would tell FOX 5 viewers you make sure you do some thorough investigating when you do an application online for mystery shoppers," said Watson.

For more information on how to become a secret or mystery shopper with a legitimate company, visit the Federal Trade Commission and the National Consumer League.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Attorney General reopens investigation into DeKalb travel agent

    Attorney General reopens investigation into DeKalb travel agent

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:31 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:31:25 GMT
    FOX 5 I-Team InvestigatesFOX 5 I-Team Investigates
    A local travel agency owner, who's been ordered by the Attorney General's office to clean up his act, is facing the same complaints again. First, there were Girl Scouts then church ladies and now a family planning a cruise says its out $21,000.
    A local travel agency owner, who's been ordered by the Attorney General's office to clean up his act, is facing the same complaints again. First, there were Girl Scouts then church ladies and now a family planning a cruise says its out $21,000.
  • Ray McBerry ex-employee speaks

    Ray McBerry ex-employee speaks

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:02 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:02:51 GMT
    A second young woman filed a Henry County police complaint accusing former gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry of some bizarre behavior.
    A second young woman filed a Henry County police complaint accusing former gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry of some bizarre behavior.
  • Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling request

    Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling request

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:04:32 GMT
    A twice-failed candidate for Georgia governor found himself face-to-face with a mother furious over what he was trying to do this month with her teenage daughter.
    A twice-failed candidate for Georgia governor found himself face-to-face with a mother furious over what he was trying to do this month with her teenage daughter.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • Good Day Atlanta

    Pike Nurseries: Keeping beautiful Hydrangeas

    Pike Nurseries: Keeping beautiful Hydrangeas

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:40 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:40:27 GMT
    Looking for plants that add fresh color to the garden? Here are some easy ideas that use new varieties of old favorites--the hydrangea and azalea—that bloom from now until fall!
    Looking for plants that add fresh color to the garden? Here are some easy ideas that use new varieties of old favorites--the hydrangea and azalea—that bloom from now until fall!
  • Local Companies Partner To Make "Green" Beer

    Local Companies Partner To Make "Green" Beer

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:39 AM EDT2014-08-01 13:39:03 GMT
    Since it seems like there's a day for everything, get this -- today is "International Beer Day!"  And one local brewing company is celebrating
    Since it seems like there's a day for everything, get this -- today is "International Beer Day!"
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices