Saturday, July 21, 2012

Watch Out For These Potential Frauds!

I was following-up on a report that someone found a secret shopper scam job on SNAGAJOB and I found this ad, here (for Englewood, New Jersey) and here (for Mobile, Alabama):

Dear Shopper,

As a mystery shopper, your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide variety of shops, stores, restaurants and services in your area. This is your chance to get paid to shop & dine out. You can make money, have fun and help improve customer service. The importance of customer service has turned mystery shopping into a $1.6 billion a year industry.

We are recruiting new workers for a quick survey from all states – it all depends on what projects we are working on at the time. While some assignments may seem attractive and some may not but at the end you will get paid

Example: An aircraft journey or a meal in a restaurant - all require a conscientious and diligent approach.

You will not be able to sit back and enjoy the flight or meal because you will be constantly taking mental notes and discreetly jotting down key notes when the opportunity arises. it now depends on the work you are been choosed to do for the company.

Secret shoppers are often given assignments to simply test the service skills of the employees. Some of the common things secret shoppers will be looking for include:

- how long it takes before the secret shopper is greeted
- how was the secret shopper treated during their visit at the location
- the types of products shown
- cleanliness of store and store associates
- speed of service

After the visit, the secret shopper will then submit their opinions about their shopping experience. That information is then reviewed and analyzed to find areas in their service that need improvement.

Yours faithfully
Human Resources
Micheal Smith
Mystery Shopper® LLC
A few things about this ad strike me as possibly not being legitimate, such as using a nonexistent word "choosed", as well as misspelling the name Michael at the end of both ads. Most people may have misgivings about working for someone who can't even spell their own name.

I found another ad here signed with the name Nicole Young and the location being Newark, New Jersey. The same use of the word "choosed" makes me think that the ads' posters are simply using copy & paste to be able to make their own job easier.

The locations given are rather far from each other, which should ring a few mental alarm bells. How is a mystery shopper company able to have client companies so far apart from each other? If this ad is fake, it makes sense in order for fewer people to catch-on to the possibility of a scam. Fraudsters will work their scam in one or two places that are far away from each other and when enough people begin to complain about not being reimbursed, the scammers move on. They learned from their earlier mistake of posting dozens of ads all at once across the country on Craigslist or Backpage and people who did an Internet search could find similar ads posted simultaneously all across the USA and Canada, which probably kept more people from getting caught-up in them. But, fake mystery shopper scams do have a measure of success, which is why they are still around.

I decided to do a bit of research on the company Mystery Shopper® LLC and I found absolutely nothing, with or without the name Micheal (or Michael) Smith added to my search queries. None of the three ads posts a physical address or telephone number for the company.

The ads even mentions airline trips as being on a potential list of assignments for the mystery shopper, which are likely to be the most expensive for the shopper to have to pay out-of-pocket and potentially disastrous for the individual if these ads are not legitimate.

I didn't respond to any of the ads, due to the personal information being requested from me by SNAGAJOB, so I have no idea what kind of reply I would get from them.

They could be legitimate. But, every instinct I have is screaming "It's a fake!".

Duane Browning

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