SHELBY, N.C. — With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, Action 9 has a warning for consumers: Watch out for the secret shopper scam.
Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke has warned viewers about this before but he found some new twists. He says one scammer went after a Shelby woman, knew where she lived, and threatened to report her to the FBI.
Jason said he’s seen that tactic used with a lot of cons, but not secret shopper ones.
Marlene Brooks told Action 9 the scammer mailed her a packet.
“They were welcoming me to their secret shopper club,” Brooks said. “I’m, like, ‘I didn’t sign up to be a secret shopper.’”
The scammer included a check for $1,845 and wanted Brooks to deposit it in her account to keep a certain amount for herself and use the rest to buy gift cards at certain stores.
The scammer also wanted the numbers off the back of the gift cards.
Brooks didn’t fall for the ruse.
Be suspicious of a so-called company that:
- Threatens you
- Asks you to deposit a check and use part of the money for the assignment
- Contacts you out of the blue, especially if it congratulates you for landing the job, and you didn’t even apply
“This is horrible,” Brooks said. “I said, ‘I wonder how many people they’ve already ripped off.’”
Brooks said that a few days later the scammer threatened her in a text.
“You have never sent your survey back. If it’s not received by 8 p.m. today, the FBI will be at your house,” she told to Stoogenke.
The scammer didn’t just know her home address but knew her cellphone number.
“It’s very creepy,” she said.
Brooks said the con artist then mailed her another package with another check worth $2,450. The secret shopper scam is common, and the Federal Trade Commission has a warning about it.
The North Carolina Attorney General’s office told Stoogenke it has had about 30 complaints this year.
Some secret shopper jobs are legitimate, and you can verify them at the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s website.
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