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HungryGuy's avatar

"Secret shopper" job? Is this a scam?

Asked by HungryGuy (16044points) December 1st, 2011

I’m trying to determine if something is a scam. Today, I received a letter from a consumer research company in Toronto asking me to be a “secret shopper.”

They included a check for a sizable amount of money payable to me with instructions to spend a specific amount at specific big box retailers (I get to keep the products), and then fill out a survey and fax it back to them.

After the purchases, there will be $250 left over as payment to me.

The letter is very professionally written. With company logos and professionally typeset. It looks like it really could have come from a legitimate market research company. And the terms seem reasonable. Nothing too good to be true.

It lists various company reps at the bottom with phone numbers, but calling them won’t prove anything, will it?

Yet, I can’t help feeling that this is almost certainly a scam.

Has anyone else received this?

If I deposit the check and wait a week for it to clear (and then wait another week or two) before I spend any money, will I be safe?

I’d rather not state the name of the company or the retailers here in case they google themselves and find this question on Fluther. PM me if you want all the gory details.

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10 Answers

fizzbanger's avatar

Sounds sketchy.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

This seems most def to be a scam. No one pays upfront. I was a secret shopper and now am a secret restaurant diner and I get paid when I file a report.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

SCAM, SCAM, SCAM, SACM!! Many years ago, I DID secret shopper work. They never gave out money BEFORE the assignment was done. The way they handled us, was we got the assignment via their Web site. You had to have an account on file, how would they know if you were really you and that you actually went? Once you accepted an assignment for whatever job, you printed out your worksheet. You then went to the store and followed the instructions. You HAD to purchase something, but they suggested something small, under 3$ (their reimburse limit) so you can have proof of the time and day you were there. Then you go home, use your memory of things you could not jot down less give yourself away, and fill out the questionnaire, (which wasn’t short by any means). Only when it was reviewed and they accepted that it was done correctly with no mistakes did you get paid. You got paid BY CHECK, not by anything left over from some big check they sent you.

I would investigate the check. Can you find the bank it was drawn on, online? Is it some off shore bank in the Caymans? Usually they get the mark to cash a very real-looking check, forward part of the money to a third party, and when the check bounces, the mark is stuck paying it back.

martianspringtime's avatar

Pretty sure it’s a scam, unfortunately. My mother received something exactly like this – and it did look legitimate – but it was a scam. She was wary of it as well, and the bank she brought the check to told her they’d had quite a few other people come to them with the same situation. All scams.

Haleth's avatar

People respond to incentives. Right now the economy sucks and everyone is trying to make a dollar. What incentive do these people have to give away $250 without knowing anything about you? No legitimate job would go to these lengths to try and sell you on the idea of working for them. If it was a real job, they should have a big pool of applicants and only a few slots, which would mean a rigorous application process.

Think about their motives. The only way this possibly makes sense is that they’re trying to make a buck.

flutherother's avatar

There are secret shopper scams out there, but if this is one it is an odd one. I can’t see any benefit to the ‘company’ in Toronto unless they hope to obtain your credit card details in some way. It is unusual for a scammer to send real money up front and I would be surprised if the cheque clears. Be on your guard!!

HungryGuy's avatar

Thanks everyone! I had thought to try to “scam the scammer” by depositing the check and, if it clears, just letting the money sit there for a few months until I was sure nobody would come to get it back. But that strikes me as a bad idea. In the trash it’s going…

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