Action 9: Secret shopper scam is back

CONCORD, N.C. — Many people are looking for side gigs to make extra money, especially now with inflation. But Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke warns about an old con that never seems to go away.

In fact, the “secret shopper” scam is making rounds again.

Gary Wagers told Stoogenke it happened not once but twice.

The Concord man said he received two checks about two weeks apart. Both were for more than $2,000.

“It was pretty realistic,” Wagers said. “It’s a cashier’s check. It looks legal and everything.”

Both checks came with instructions saying he was chosen to be a secret shopper at Walmart. They instructed him to deposit the check in his own account and deduct $350 as his pay for completing the task. Then he was supposed to pass the rest of the money along.

But the checks, which had the same check number, were not real.

The biggest red flag for Wagers was that he never applied for a secret shopper job.

“I knew it was a scam. I just didn’t want anybody else to get scammed with it,” he said.

That’s why Wagers emailed Action 9.

“The way the economy is, I could see how people would fall for it,” he said. “People looking for ways to make money. They think maybe that’s it.”

Stoogenke says to be suspicious if a so-called company contacts you out of the blue and asks you to deposit a check and use part of the money for the assignment.

Some secret shopper jobs are legitimate, however.

You can find a list of real secret shopper jobs and how to apply for them at the MSPA Americas website, mspa-americas.org, which used to be the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.

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