Scam Alert: Secret Shopper the Target of Scammers

By: WHSV Newsroom
By: WHSV Newsroom

Virginia The Better Business Bureau warns scammers are using real business names, to get money from people.

The scammers are using the Secret Shopper program to get the money from people. The bureau says the scammers send you a check and ask you to deposit the check, take out your shopping expenses and send the money back. But do not cash the check because banks could hold you liable for the money.

Here is the release from the Better Business Bureau:

You receive an email informing you that you've been offered a job as a secret shopper. To get started, the message instructs you to reply and confirm your mailing address. After doing this, you will receive instructions and a check to cover your fee and shopping expenses.

When your check arrives, you notice it uses the name of a real local business. And it may even have the company's account and routing numbers. Your instructions tell you to deposit the check, subtract your fee and shopping expenses and wire the rest back... but don't do it. The check looks real, but it's a fake. Scammers often intercept real checks from businesses and "wash" them to use in scams like these.

If you deposit the check and draw money against it, you will be responsible for those funds. When the bank rejects the fake check, they will delete the advanced funds from your account.

Tips for Businesses:
- Don't become a victim of a check scam. Here are some tips for working with checks.
- Monitor your accounts payable. If too much time goes by and one of your checks does not clear, stop payment on the check and send out another one to the payee.
- Use tamper resistant checks. Checks with security features make it harder for crooks who may intercept them to counterfeit or alter them.
- Keep track of new check orders. If you order checks and they don't arrive, be sure to notify your bank/check provider. They may have been stolen.
- Keep checks secured. Keep reserve supplies of checks, deposit slips and other banking documents locked up. Limit the number of people who can access them.
- Put your sensitive or banking info away. Don't leave checks or other bank records unattended while you serve customers. Someone might take them while you aren't looking.


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