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For Consumers

Mystery Shopper Scam

The South Simcoe Police would like to warn the public to be aware of the "mystery shopper" scam that is victimizing Canadian consumers. The scam works as follows: The victim answers an enticing ad, usually on line to become a mystery shopper. The " employer " sends a letter, with mystery shopping tasks to be completed at a local big box type store and a cheque to help the victim fulfill his/her mystery shopping tasks. The victim will likely cash the cheque he/she was given first. One of the tasks will be to use a money transfer company and wire a large portion of the money to a name provided, in order to test the company's procedure and customer service skills. The victim will find out later that the cheque is counterfeit, thus making the victim accountable to pay for the funds he/she wired.

In a recent occurrence, the victim, who had answered an on line ad to be a mystery shopper, was sent a cheque from a company in Vancouver for $3,300.00. She was advised to perform two surveys at big box stores, cash the cheque, keep $600.00 for herself, and wire the rest of the money using wire transfer service to a male in Dubai. In this case, the cheque was determined to be counterfeit and investigation revealed an innocent company in Vancouver was the victim of company cheques that were copied.

Please remember:

  •    If it is to good to be true, it likely is;
  •    Be aware of any transaction where you are asked to send money using a wire transfer service;
  •    Be very suspicious of any over payment by cheque where you are asked to send the balance of the money back;
  •    Be very suspicious if you are asked to wire money out of the country;
  •    Be very suspicious if you are asked to send money to a third party who was not involved in the original transaction;
  •    Check phone number area codes for geographic location to see if they match the location where the caller says he/she is calling from.

Prepared by: Staff Sergeant Van Dyke - Criminal Investigation Branch

Ministry of Consumer Services

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