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Rip-Off Alert: Double-check those 'mystery shopper' checks

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 4/25/2013 5:16 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Who doesn't want to make a little extra money on the side? That's why those ads promising big bucks for stuffing envelopes or becoming a mystery shopper seem so enticing. However, in this Rip-Off Alert, you'll learn that it might be a scam.

Thousands of people are getting letters in the mail promising hundreds of dollars.

" ‘The payment in this envelope is made out to you in respect of the mystery shopper position you applied for,’ ” said U.S. Postal Inspector Glen McKechnie. "The person at home may think they have won a lottery or that their prayers have been answered and now they are working from home.

"Unfortunately, behind the letters, behind the advertisements, are scams."

The con artists tell you that you will be either evaluating the quality of service in a store or testing a specific product.

The envelope they send usually includes a counterfeit check or money order you're supposed to cash. Next step: Go shopping for the product you'll be evaluating.

"Once they buy the items they are told to keep the items and mail the additional money back to the scammer," McKechnie said.

The problem: The checks are counterfeit. The money victims send back ends up coming out of their account.

"They are responsible for the money lost," McKechnie said.

Postal inspectors say consumers need to be on the lookout.

"That solicitation can say anything,” McKechnie said, “as long as there is an attractive hook to it, and it's accompanied by a check."

Two pieces of advice: Contact the Better Business Bureau to check out any business that tries to solicit you, and never send money back to anyone who sends you a check or money order unless you know exactly who they are and you're certain they are legitimate.
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