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VERIFY: 'Mystery shopper' job offer not legit

One woman contacted the VERIFY team after being offered a job as a mystery shopper -- but felt it may be a scam.

HOUSTON — A lot of people take on side-jobs ahead of the holiday season to earn extra cash, but not all of those opportunities are legit. 

One woman contacted the VERIFY team after being offered a job as a mystery shopper. 

The offer came in the mail with instructions for the mystery shopper to evaluate their experience at Walmart. But first they must cash an enclosed check for $2,940. The would-be mystery shopper would keep $540 as payment and proceed to the nearest Walmart with the remaining cash to purchase six $400 Kroger gift cards. It tells the shopper to email their evaluation and keep the gift cards for their next assignment.”

Our sources for this are the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association and Kroger.

The MSPA connects and supports businesses that influence customer experiences. One of the ways the organization does that is by using mystery shopping firms to help them collect customer satisfaction data. 

The group is no stranger to scams. In fact, it has a section on its website dedicated to scam alerts. The most recent involves solicitations for “reliable agents for a Walmart shopping survey.”

The MSPA isn’t the only one warning customers about this scam.

Kroger wrote the VERIFY team, “Kroger is aware of a scam that is being mailed to people’s homes, asking customers to act as a ‘Secret Shopper’. The scam involves depositing a check into their personal bank account, and then using the deposited funds to purchase gift cards for the scammer, under the ruse of a ‘shopping evaluation’. Although these checks may look real and are often printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions, they are fraudulent and will eventually be flagged by their bank, sometimes several days later.  Individuals who unknowingly purchase gift cards using the fraudulent funds have found themselves out of thousands of dollars.”

So, we can VERIFY: This offer is not legitimate. 

The Better Business Bureau says these scams typically come from third party requests that involve cashing a check, wiring money or buying gift cards. If you see an offer like that, report it to the attorney general's office or the Federal Trade Commission.

If you are interested in being a mystery shopper, the MSPA has a database of legitimate offers on its website. 

And if you have something you would like the VERIFY team to look into, send us an email at verify@khou.com or fill out the form below: