Beware of secret shopper scams - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Beware of secret shopper scams

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

Any chance to make a little extra money before the holidays is welcome, but sometimes there is a fine line between making money and losing money.

Some retailers hire people to go into a store to check out its customer service. For your trouble you make a small amount of money.  It's when you're offered a lot of money that you should say, "wait a minute."

Shanty Watson received a check for $2,194.00 after signing up online to work for Ace Shoppers.  She thought she'd been hired to secretly shop at local retailers, reporting back about customer service.

"I've been actively looking for the past of months now," said Watson.

She was thrilled, and she had strict instructions.

"She said to deposit that check into my account and once I did that, in 24 hours, it'll be active," said Watson.

Watson's high-paying, new part-time job came tumbling down before she got into trouble.  

"Went to the bank and they said, ‘No ma'am, you won't be able to do that.  It's a fraudulent check,'" said Watson.

Without even talking to her, Fred Elsberry of the Atlanta BBB says he can tell you that next she would have been asked to shop for a few items, then send a large chunk of the money back to her employer.  

"Most of this money we want you to wire back to us by Western Union 'cause we want to see how good their service is. And so you wire that money back," explained Elsberry.

According to the National Consumers League there is a spike in secret shopper scams. Elsberry says this is how it generally works.

"The interesting thing is that these people have stolen the bank account number from the company that's on the check. So, if you go to the bank, they'll tell you that's a legit account for that particular company," said Elsberry.

Had the bank not caught this, Watson would have been responsible for paying back nearly $2,000 to the bank. Furious, she called "Ace Shoppers."

"I said, I'm going to report you to FOX 5 and she hung up! And every time I called she kept hanging up," said Watson.

An I-Team investigation connects Ace Shoppers from the Bronx, NY  to another secret shopper company with the same address: Value Shoppers. According to the New York BBB, they're "scammers (who) defrauded consumers of large amounts of money" through the same scheme.

The National Consumers League says that a legit company will never ask you to do a money transfer.  

"I would tell FOX 5 viewers you make sure you do some thorough investigating when you do an application online for mystery shoppers," said Watson.

For more information on how to become a secret or mystery shopper with a legitimate company, visit the Federal Trade Commission and the National Consumer League.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:15:25 GMT
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Save on Vacation

    Save on Vacation

    Monday, April 21 2014 9:56 AM EDT2014-04-21 13:56:05 GMT
    Thinking about vacation is a lot of fun. Thinking about what it'll cost you is not so fun. Here are some ideas for cutting costs.
    Thinking about vacation is a lot of fun. Thinking about what it'll cost you is not so fun. Here are some ideas for cutting costs.
  • Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Monday, April 14 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-14 13:15:13 GMT
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions. Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions:  Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Dine Out for Project Open Hand

    Dine Out for Project Open Hand

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:39 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:39:13 GMT
    Head out to the a participating restaurant to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Dining Out For Life.
    Head out to the a participating restaurant to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of Dining Out For Life.
  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:15:25 GMT
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
  • Mountain Festival Brings Music, Dancing To Dahlonega Square

    Mountain Festival Brings Music, Dancing To Dahlonega Square

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:08 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:08:13 GMT
    The North Georgia town of Dahlonega is best-known for its gold. But this weekend, music will bring more than 50,000 people to the historic town square.
    The North Georgia town of Dahlonega is best-known for its gold. But this weekend, music will bring more than 50,000 people to the historic town square.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices