Secret Shopper Scam Described

The Consumerist“, a website that highlights the persistent, shameless gaffes of modern consumerism – and the latest scams, rip-offs, hot deals and freebies, encourages their readers to tell them about their everyday experiences with absurdities of consumer culture – and suggest ways for them to fight back.

They explain in detail how the ‘Secret Shopper’ scam works and the comments are interesting too, especially the one from a persone who actually did the job for real.

There are legit Mystery Shopper jobs. A friend did it for years.

A Legit company, has a physical office,
Pays Unemployment insurance.
Offers Insurance and maybe a 401k
Supplies you with a company credit card to offset employee purchases required to do the job.
Handles corporate accounts for big names such as Pepsico, or Marriott.
Reimburses all employee costs and pays mileage.
You DO NOT get to keep your purchases required to do your job unless its staying in a hotel you are “shopping”
Food is tested for temp, drinks for proper mixture.
You will be observing cleanliness and going to the bathrooms.
You may eat your meal but your probably shopping 20 places that day so most of it must be disposed of, it cannot be given away.
You WILL be traveling the country, sometimes 1000 miles a day in all types of weather.
You WILL be away from home 2-3 weeks a month.
You WILL NOT be payed in advance.
You will get a salary on top of compensation for your purchases.
You WILL spend many a night sleeping in your car.

Anything that does not meet these criteria is most likely a SCAM.

So, it’s not as exciting or lucrative as it sounds! 🙁

3 thoughts on “Secret Shopper Scam Described

  1. ... says:

    These type of postings are all over Craigslist. I fell for a few back in highschool when I was trying to look for an easy, first job. Good thing I never actually went forth with it, as it seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, some of us out there are desperate for quick cash and will give in– especially if it’s something fun to do! Check out this video i’ve seen that goes into the scam further and tells you exactly how it all works:

    Don’t fall for it!!!

  2. Scott Wallace says:

    I worked for half a dozen Mystery Shopper companies (in Australia), all legit.
    All my communications with them were online, by phone, fax & occasionally snail mail–never in person. I was always reimbursed for my purchases & always got to keep them. Each particular job (or “shop”) in each particular place was usually something I could accept or decline without having to explain why. Sometimes I could even haggle about my travel allowance.
    I never got a company credit card, never got paid in advance. Didn’t travel much: with Mystery Shoppers all over the country, it wouldn’t have made sense to pay me to go somewhere when someone else who could do the job was already there.
    I Mystery Shopped all kinds of places, including banks, post offices, service stations, Macdonald’s & Weight Watchers (those last two went well together).
    It wasn’t a way to get rich but the money was good.
    And although they didn’t issue me with a license to kill, I CAN truthfully say that I was a spy.

  3. Greg Such says:

    Hello MXW,

    I am an avid reader of your blog. Too many times have I had to call my credit card company asking them to cancel my card and refund my balance due to fraudulent purchases. I was wondering if you had the chance to discuss in more detail, by email of phone. My email address is I’d love to hear your thoughts on a few issues. Please let me know.



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