shopping scams


A recent Scam Tip Off Report tells me of a Logistics Position for Recap Distribution. Supposedly operating in Finland, all the money seems to flow to Russia.

It’s a simple enough scam – You take a job as a ‘Receivables Clerk’. Packages arrive and you send them on to another address. Money comes in to your PayPal account, you ship it somewhere else bu Western Union.


Now you know that the packages were bought with stolen credit card numbers, right? and the money in your paypal account? same thing.

All goes well for a while until a cop turns up on your doorstep asking why you are (a) handling stolen goods and (b) money laundering. Demanding some kind of restitution.

So, if that kind of thing sounds good to you, go to the Recap Distribution Careers page on their website at RECAPDIST.COM

Which has been operating since way back in NOVEMBER 2012


Registration Date: 14-Nov-2012
Expiration Date: 14-Nov-2013
Registrant Contact Details:
Recap Distribution
Danny Jones ()
Mannerheimvagen 12
Tel. +358.358923161434

Don’t buy a vehicle from a “Curbstoner”

OK, so what, precisely, is a Curbstoner?

Here’s some background:

You know that place on your commute that always has a bunch of cars for sale? the patch of waste ground by the stoplights? Buying a used car or leasing a car is a major decision (you can check the van leasing info to take the best decision), and you want to be sure you’re shopping at Autozin a trusted dealership. Many people mistake car washing with car detailing. This car detailing introduction provides an overview of car detailing and how it’s different that a simple car wash or wax job.

That’s almost certainly a curbstone site. Curbstoners are unlicensed vehicle dealers, called as such because they tend to park a selection of cars for sale in popular areas along the curbstones. They operate in this way because a private sale of a vehicle is not covered by the legal restrictions that a dealer must abide by.

You’ll run into yet another headache when trying to get quotes, as the insurance company will have to look deep into the vehicles history, and if the scam has something to do with who legally owns the vehicle the consequences could fall on you. These iffy car sellers will never tell you the full story, but once money has changed hands there’s no going back to them for help. For exactly that reason they may hide certain things from you that could affect you severely shortly down the line.

Why are they bad?

Several reasons:

‘Stop Art Scams’ blog

A California artist, Katie Moe, who describes herself as an ‘Artist and Anti-Scam Samurai’ has a blog devoted to informing fellow artists and other people about a common emailtype scam, the ‘Art Scam’.

A spam email will ask to buy something from your website or for you to source and provide products (usually high value items or a large number of items that add up to a high value. Payment is a (stolen) credit card or a (counterfeit) check and in most cases, there is a requirement to ‘forward’ an overpayment to a third party, usually a shipping or customs agent. The overpayment is always demanded by Western Union and is always overseas. Often this is the payload. Everything else is just window dressing. If you are stupid enough to send the products you will probably lose them.

The joy at getting a lucrative, large order can blind people to the sometimes obvious red flags. This is when the scammers win big!

Read her blog, she specializes in this type of scam and has seen them all!

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! 🙁

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 [] email address, but wants replies to Michael Bernard [].

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, casino online, 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 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:

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:

Thank you,
Michael Bernard
Best Surveys, 505 Barranca Parkway,

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.