Warning: Protect Yourself From the Secret Shopper Scam

scams and fraud© Kameleon007 / Getty Images Signature / Canva

PENNSYLVANIA — Have you received a text message, email or letter inviting you to participate in a research project as a secret shopper without the need for an interview because you’re the perfect person for the position?

In this scam, the recruiter typically sends a check worth more than the items you buy, so you get to keep the rest as a bonus. They will instruct you to deposit the check right away, buy gift cards, and provide the scammer with the number and pin on the gift cards.

Unfortunately, the check they send you is fraudulent and it will take a few days to clear, but in the meantime, you’ve made these purchases out of your account. When you find out three or four days later that the check was fraudulent, you’ve already bought those gift cards and sent them off to the scammer.

“Pennsylvanians should know the tricks these scammers use so they can proactively keep themselves, their money, and their personal information safe,” said Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry. “Anyone receiving suspicious emails, calls, or texts should report them to my Office to help protect yourself and others.”

Warning Signs of This Scam

  • A job listing or unsolicited mailing, call, text or email that guarantees you will make a lot of money as a secret shopper.
  • A secret shopper job that requires you to pay up front to get started.
  • An “employer” that sends you a check or money order with instructions to deposit it in your account and return a portion to the sender.

Consumers with any questions or feel that they have been victimized by this scam or any similar scams may submit a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting the website, https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/scams-complaint/, by emailing scams@attorneygeneral.gov or by calling the Office at 1-800-441-2555.

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