VERIFY: Is this secret shopper holiday job offer legitimate?

No, this offer is not legitimate.

QUESTION: 

Is this secret shopper holiday job offer legitimate?

ANSWER: 

No, this offer is not legitimate.

SOURCES: 

Better Business Bureau Communications Director of Communications & Public Affairs, WoodForest National Bank

PROCESS: 

There’s no denying the holidays can be an expensive, we’d all love a little extra dough in our pockets.

Annette Vanderhall said she applied for part-time work as a secret shopper, but when a packet with a big check arrived in the mail with her alleged “job instructions” she got suspicious and reached out to our Verify team to confirm if it’s legitimate or not.

First – our researchers worked to identify the company “LBS Market INC.”  A quick search didn’t pull up any information or a website for the company. So, we called the number listed on the documents – no one picked up and there’s no recorded message.

Next, verify researchers called WoodForest Bank about that $2,995 check Annette got in the mail. They confirmed, it’s fake. It would have bounced. And they thanked our researchers and turned it over to their fraud department.

But we didn’t stop there – we want to make sure no one else gets duped by an offer of quick cash – so we got ahold of the experts at the Better Business Bureau.

Kelsey Coleman, Better Business Bureau Director of Communications says there are some major red flags that show this is a scam. The biggest she said, is that scammers want them to deposit a check with very specific instructions and then tell the consumer to send money back with very specific instructions/gift card payments.

The first and biggest – is that check.  No legit business is going to overpay you, then ask you to cash the check and send extra money back. It’s one of the oldest tricks around.

Next – look at the signature on the check.  If you look at it closely, it’s just typed in a fancy font, not actually signed.

Coleman confirmed this is part of a new family of scams that have different hooks, such as Ebay/Craigslist fraud, or “Mystery” shopper scam, or “Car Wrap” scam.  Legitimate companies don’t pay you more than the agreed upon price, and then ask you to wire money back to them.  

The Better Business Bureau said If you’re tempted, don’t withdraw any funds until your bank tells you the check is valid, about two weeks.

Last red flag – the part the job requires you to buy and send “iTunes” gift cards.  Tricksters will do that because unlike wire transfers, those cards are mostly untraceable.

WUSA9 News contacted WoodForest National Bank about the legitimacy of the check and they said, “After reviewing the check our records indicate that the check is not valid.”

But the Better Business Bureau says you can avoid falling for these type of scams by:

1.  Simply ignore emails or advertisements for mystery shopper jobs.  They are scams.
2.  Research online particular mystery shopping companies you may want to consider contacting to make sure they are legitimate.
3.  Don’t pay a fee to get a list of mystery shopping opportunities.
4.  Don’t pay to become certified as a mystery shopper.
5.  Always be skeptical when you are asked to wire money in any business transaction.  Unlike credit card payments where you can get fraudulent payments erased or sending a check that you can stop payment on, wired funds are irretrievable from the moment they are sent.

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© 2017 WUSA-TV


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