Mystery Shopper Scam – How and Why it works

Here’s a little email I receive quite often – I assumed these were scams, but never got round to ionvestigating them until now.  from a Javier Hines [otakvenezi@webvis.net] email address, but wants replies to Michael Bernard [michael.bernard55@gmail.com].

Irvine, CA 92604-3703

Thank you for your interest in the Mystery Shopper position.

Our company conducts surveys and evaluates other companies in order to help them achieve their performance goals.
We offer an integrated suite of business solutions that enables corporations to achieve tangible results in the marketplace.
We get hired by other companies and act like customers to find out how they are handling their services in relation to their customers.

Mystery Shopping is the most accurate and reliable tool a business can use to gather information regarding their actual customer service performance at the moment of truth. This moment of truth is not when the staff is on their best behavior because the boss is around – it is when they interact with customers during their normal daily routines.
This is where you, the Mystery Shopper, come in. You pose as an ordinary customer and provide feedback of both factual observations (ex…the floor was free of debris) and your own opinions (ex…I felt that the temperature in the establishment was too cold).

Mystery Shoppers must remain anonymous. You must act as a regular customer and be careful not to do anything that would reveal you as a shopper. An inexperienced shopper could tip off the staff to his/her identity by asking for the manager’s name for no clear or appropriate reason. If you are going to be bringing someone with you on the shop, make sure you educate them about the process as well. Beware that even whispers can be overheard by employees. If anyone notices you are a shopper, you can bet that word will quickly spread around the establishment and you will get some of the best customer service in town.
No company can afford to have a gap between the promise of quality and its actual delivery, that’s why leading corporations look to us, the nation’s premiere mystery shopping and customer experience measurement company.

In order for a business to effectively compete in today’s economy, they must be prepared to meet the challenge of increasing sales by:
* Retaining existing customers
* Acquiring new customers
* Creating word-of-mouth advocacy
* Improving customer loyalty

Once we have a contract to do so, you would be directed to the company or outlet, and you would be given the funds you need to do the job(either purchase merchandise or require services), after which you would write a detailed report of your experience.

Examples of details you would forward to us are:
1) How long does it take to get served.
2) Politeness of the attendant.
3) Customer service professionalism.
4) Sometimes you might be required to upset the attendant, to see how they deal with difficult clients.

Then we turn the information over to the company executives and they will carry out their own duties in improving their services.
Most companies employ our assistance when people complain about their services, or when they feel there is a need for them to improve upon their customer service.
Our company partners with you to implement proven mystery shop auditing and surveying strategies that provide critical information about customer experiences.
You will be paid a commission of $100 for every duty you carry out, and bonus on your transportation allowance.
Your task will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide variety of restaurants, retail stores, casinos, shopping malls, banks and hotels in your area.

Qualities of a good Mystery Shopper:
* Is 21 years of age or older
* Loves to go shopping
* Is fair and objective
* Is ON TIME
* Is very observant and able to focus on details
* Is fairly intelligent
* Has patience
* Is detail oriented
* Is practical
* Types well
* Is trustworthy
* Explains well in writing
* Is discreet
* Loves to learn
* Handles deadlines
* Has full internet access (at home or at work)

Mystery Shopping is fun and exciting but also must be approached very seriously and is definitely not for everyone.
If you are interested in applying for consideration as a Mystery Shopper do send in your information only at our e-mail:  michael.bernard55@gmail.com

Full Name:           Address:
City:                      State:
Zip Code:             Phone Number:
Age:                      Occupation:

As soon as we receive your information we will add you to our database and we will look for locations in your area that needs to be evaluated. If you have any questions please reply on our e-mail: michael.bernard55@gmail.com

Thank you,
Michael Bernard
Best Surveys, 505 Barranca Parkway, michael.bernard55@gmail.com

Now this sounds good – and fun too – we all want to reward good service and punish bad service – and who doesn’t want to go shopping?? :)

Well, this is just our old friend the counterfeit check scam in another guise. At some time you’ll probably end up having to cash a large check and ‘send the rest’ on to a wierd address by (guess who?) Western Union (‘The Scammers Best Friend’).

Also seen as postings on CraigsList or print classified ads or sent to people who are looking for employment on Dice/Monster etc. Job sites – The ‘job’ sounds very attractive and would obviously appeal to candidates such as home makers, Pensioners and other people with free time who want to make a little extra cash.

The Federal Trade Commission offers some advice about becoming a “mystery shopper”:

The truth is that it is unnecessary to pay money to anyone to get into the mystery shopper business. The shopping certification offered in advertising or unsolicited email is almost always worthless. A list of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for free; and legitimate mystery shopper jobs are on the Internet for free. Consumers who try to get a refund from promoters of mystery shopping jobs usually are out of luck. Either the business doesn’t return the phone calls, or if it does, it’s to try another pitch.

Here’s What SNOPES has to say on the subject:

Remember always, if you are asked to pay for the privilege of working (eg by needing to purchase training materials or obtain certification or register with a database of available mystery shoppers), you are probably being conned, avoiding being victimized in this fashion would be a relatively simple matter: all one would need to remember is, “If they want me to pay them, it’s a scam.” And that would be that.

Someone who answers a mystery shopper ad is sent an employment packet typically containing a variety of items, including a training assignment and a cashier’s check made out for a largish amount, typically a few thousand dollars. The assignment explains that the “shopper” is to pose as an ordinary bank customer (either at a particular named bank or his own), cash the check there, then wire the funds he receives from the teller to an address that has been supplied in the information package. The “shopper” will also typically be told it is imperative he complete the task within two days, or else he will not be paid for his work or hired again.

How to Avoid Falling Victim to ‘Secret Shopper’ Scams:

  • Remember that anyone can place a newspaper or online ad. Do not confuse the appearance of such solicitations in reputable forums with proof of the offers having been vetted by those publications or job search services.
  • Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by official-sounding corporate names. Some scam artists operate under business names that can be confused with those of long-standing, reputable firms. Others choose impressive-sounding evocative names that roll satisfyingly off the tongue. In both instances, they count on their pigeons being mollified by the sound of the name rather than inspired to research the company on their own.
  • Don’t pay a company to hire you, not even if such payment is presented as your buying necessary training materials, obtaining required certification, or registering with databases of available mystery shoppers. Remember, if the process involves your sending your “employers” money, it’s probably a scam.
  • Be wary of companies that ask you to disburse money from your own pocket for the goods you buy as their secret shopper. While some legitimate mystery shopper companies do operate in this fashion (with their employees submitting receipts for what they bought along with their reports, then being reimbursed in full), the more prudent aspiring secret shoppers will tread carefully in this regard at least for the first few transactions, rather than plunge in wildly and make large purchases with their own cash.
  • Do not wire money to strangers or to firms that have supposedly hired you. Use entities such as Western Union and MoneyGram only when you know the person who will be receiving your cash very, very well. Remember, that while a charge made against a credit card can be disputed and a check can have a stop-payment order issued against it, once cash is out the door, it is gone forever. Since wiring money is sending cash, treat it that way.
  • If you have questions about the legitimacy of a job listing, contact your Better Business Bureau, your state or local consumer agency, or the Federal Trade Commission.

2 thoughts on “Mystery Shopper Scam – How and Why it works

  1. john u says:

    Any craiglist email or phone call I get I check against RU Scammer and 90% of the time someone has posted about it already.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *