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Hood warns of mystery shopper scam

JACKSON — Attorney General Jim Hood is reminding consumers to be cautious when responding to advertisements and mailings for employment as a mystery/secret shopper or customer service evaluator. Many of these advertisements are scams, Hood said.

Often, the scam starts when consumers respond to an advertisement or mailing looking for a mystery shopper, secret shopper or a customer service evaluator. When consumers contact the company about the position, the consumers are told they can earn money by purchasing items at different stores, dining at different restaurants or by evaluating a store’s service. The company then sends an employment packet, which includes business evaluation forms and a cashier’s check. Consumers are instructed to cash the check, pose as a customer and wire the money to an address in Canada.

The scam is that the check is fake, Hood said. The check bounces after the person wires the money, leaving the person responsible for the fake check.

Many times, scammers use a legitimate company’s name on the mailing or advertisement to make the consumer think everything is legal. Just recently, the Attorney General’s Office received a copy of such a scam mailing. The name of a valid mystery shopping company, National Shopping Service, was placed on a mailing. When contacted by the Consumer Protection Division of Attorney General’s Office, a representative from National Shopping Service confirmed that the company is aware of these mailings and has been actively working with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association to help combat this type activity.

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