LinkedIn Scam: Secret Shopper, Mystery Shopper & Detective Shopper Scams
Mystery shopping is a great way to earn extra cash. And a message with an offer to work as a mystery shopper sent via the professional networking site LinkedIn might seem like a legitimate opportunity. But, unfortunately, it’s the latest approach scammers are using to target victims as part of a LinkedIn scam.
Example of a chain store survey program referral email:
Hi, Part Time Income opportunity; New surveyors are needed constantly for ongoing chain store evaluation programs for brands like Walmart, CVS,7’Eleven etc. A research project is starting in your area. This project takes place every week, so the research company needs to recruit guest/mystery shoppers to work as surveyors. You will get $350 on each assignment and I have actually tried it. To participate, I Jennifer, hereby refer you to complete an application form by clicking the link below and you would be contacted when a project comes up in your area; hXXps://closerevaluationincXX.wufoo.com/formsXX/z16go01r0x1rl6iXX/
How the scam works:
First, you receive a recruitment LinkedIn message from a secret shopper service, sometimes called SS-Network, Link Sole Services LLC, or a variety of other names. The recruiter tells you that you have been selected for an assignment as a secret shopper in your area. You will get $200-$300 dollars and will receive a packet that will have the funds for shopping. All you need to do is send them your name, address, age, occupation and an alternative email address.
After they receive your information, you will receive another email with your instructions and a USPS tracking number. In this you will be given instructions. The instructions are listed below.
You then will receive by mail a money order for a large amount of money. This is normally several thousand dollars. The money order looks legit. Per instructions, you are to cash this at your bank, subtract your payment ($200-$300) and then proceed to Walmart and spend $20 on any item you want.
Now you are to survey you experience at Walmart. This is where the scammer is trying to gain your trust. Their goal is to make this secret shopping scam seem real so that you don’t expect anything.
Your next assignment is to either send the money to another secret shopper or secret shop Western Union. You are to send the remainder of your balance to the person listed in your instruction email. Once the money is sent, you are to take note of how the service was and send them back an email letting them know your survey results as well as the transaction number.
A few days later, or even a week later, your bank rejects the money order since they realize it is a fake and the funds are removed from your account.
Scams are a form of fraud, usually committed through email. Scammers create false identities or impersonate legitimate people or companies. Their goal is to steal your money or in some cases, your identity. A few common scams you should be aware of include:
- Inheritance or advanced fee fraud scams
- Job scams
- Technical support scams
- Dating and romance scams
There are also several possible warning signs of a typical scam message:
- Offers that seem too good to be true.
- Messages containing spelling or grammar mistakes.
- Messages that aren’t addressed to you personally.
- Messages asking you for personal or financial information.