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Secret Shopper Scam/BBB Safety Tips

Posted 5/22/2012 1:26 PM by MDGREGORY

On Monday, May 21st, a Spokane Valley woman contacted a Sheriff's deputy in Spokane Valley reference a "Secret Shopper" scam. The woman reported she had responded to an e-mail inquiring if she would be interested participating in the "Secret Shopper" program. The woman replied she would and on May 11th, she received a FedEx envelope that contained a $980.00 money order. She then receive an e-mail explaining she was to deposit the money order into her bank account and withdraw $805.00 from the account. She was instructed to send the $805.00 via Western Union to Tony Adams at 40 Arsene Rd., Quezon City, Manila. She was advised she could keep the remaining $175.00 for herself.

The woman said on May 19th she received a call from her bank telling her the money order was no good and she was responsible for the $980.00 money order. The woman said later that same day, she received three more money orders from FedEx, U.S. Mail and Priority Mail in her mailbox. The victim said inside each envelope were two money orders for $980.00 along with the same instructions she had followed initially. The envelopes were sent from Johnnie Swift in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Mike Michon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Joe Cole from Novi, Michigan.

The Better Business Bureau is aware of these type of fraudulent scams and has provided the following safety tips to people contacted by these types of organizations.

Look for reputable firms that:

- Qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations;
- Enjoy a good reputation with their clients and shoppers, and
- Do not charge a fee to complete an application.

Steer clear of get-rich-quick offers, the BBB advises mystery shopper applicants to:

- Ignore claims that you will make big profits easily. Mystery shopping will not make you rich; at best it provides part-time income.
- Avoid falling for claims that "guarantee" a position without training.
- Be cautions of unsolicited e-mails offering "work-from-home."
- Never pay money up-front. A legitimate mystery shopping service will not charge money for materials, training or recruiting.
- Obtain the name of the company and check the business out with the BBB, local consumer protection agency, and state attorney general.

Information about this Spokane Sheriff News story is also available at