Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mystery Shopper Scams

Having a job as a mystery shopper sounds like an easy job to do. All you have to do is shop at a store, eat at a restaurant, etc and then write a review of the quality of service you received and send it to your employer, who then reimburses you for whatever goods/services you received as well as giving you payment on top of that as your fee.

In this economy, there are people out there looking either for a job or a second (or third) job in order to make ends meet, pay their rent and put food on the table. Maybe they need medications but don't have the money to pay for them. So, they look around in the classifieds for a job. Now, for people who already have a job, but just need a second one, they might be working somewhere that the job is physically strenuous and they couldn't take the physical strain of a second job like their first one, so they look for something that pays but won't run them into the ground. I think those are the kind of applicants for mystery shopper jobs that scammers are really looking for.

I found this ad in numerous cities (by "numerous", I mean that I found dozens of copies of this ad posted on Backpage.com in cities all across the United States) that offers a mystery Shopper job:


QUALITY CONTROL - Earn up to $25 per hour

posted: August 22, 2010, 08:25 AM

Reply: click here
Experience Not Required.

UNDERCOVER SHOPPERS Needed to Judge Retail and Dining Establishments.

GREAT BONUSES and PLENTY OF FLEXIBILITY. FULL TIME and PART TIME

For Information on Application, Please Call:

(877) 234-8176


This job is INTERESTING and RARELY BORING. One GREAT thing is that the employees get to work multiple locations.

Also, Mystery Shoppers judge a range of businesses: SALES COMPANIES, MEDICAL, CUSTOMER SERVICE, ADMINISTRATIVE, RETAIL, WAREHOUSING, SECURITY, CLERICAL, PURCHASING, CONSTRUCTION, MORTGAGE, INSURANCE, COLLECTIONS, TRAVEL, AUTOMOTIVE, BANKING. You will be working with people in ALL KINDS OF POSITIONS like: MANAGER, DIRECTOR, RECEPTIONIST, CUSTOMER, ENTRY LEVEL EMPLOYEE, PROJECT MANAGER, PROJECT ASSISTANT, ACCOUNTANT, SUPERVISOR AND BUYER.

The bottom line is that we provide access to over 20,000 possible jobs.
Anything is possible, because no matter what kind of business you are in, quality control is important. That is where you the mystery shopper comes in. You judge the quality and report to the people that can change it.

The best thing is that you can have access to all of our jobs. If you like the job you can continue working with us.
Call (877) 234-8176 Now and start working!
Salary/Wage: Up to $25 per hour
Education: High School
Status: Part-time, Temp/Contract
Shift: Days, Nights and Weekends
• Location: Nationwide

• Post ID: 3300389


There are a few warning signs in the above ad that should give potential applicants cause to pause before they call:

  • While the ad does post a phone number, the actual name of the company is omitted. Who are you going to be working for?
  • The toll-free number does not appear on any search listing containing the name of the person who owns it. I know that the number was first purchased from Qwest ( a provider of toll-free number services) back in 2007, but that's all I know and that's all anyone else would know. When you call a toll-free number, the person on the other end knows who you are and where you are calling from, which is an advantage that you do not share.
  • The ad includes lots of words SPELLED-OUT IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS in the same manner as scam emails that have been circulating the Internet for years. Capital letters are meant to imbue a sense of urgency, as well as draw your attention to them, in the hope that you will stop asking questions about who the ad poster really is and where they actually live.
  • Notice how the ad says that you can make "up to $25 an hour" without telling you what the low range is. In other words: what is the least amount of money you'll get paid? It certainly sounds like a lot when you only mention the top range, but they're not telling you that you might make only $5 an hour or $1 or maybe nothing at all. Remember that the top pay is $25, but the lowest wage is left unmentioned. Even if the ad is real, chances are that the majority of the work won't be paying twenty-five bucks an hour and most mystery shopping jobs won't take an hour of your time. When was the last time you went shopping and it took you over an hour to buy something? While grocery shopping might be time-intensive, a trip to the store to buy a box of diapers wouldn't take more than a few minutes and the ad says "per hour" not "per job".
Whatever the case may be, the ad itself is suspicious. The identity of the poster is left unknown. You get a toll-free number, but nothing else. Add to that the wide net this person cast by posting their ad in online classifieds all across the United States in the same manner that other online scams send out thousands of emails in the hopes of catching one person in that net and it looks very much like a scammer trying to get people's personal information to use in ways that the people wouldn't like or want.

Lacking any further information, I'd advise staying away from these people.

Duane Browning
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