Huron County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is warning citizens to be aware of the Mystery Shopper scam with a COVID-19 twist after a South Huron resident was victimized for nearly $2,600.
The Mystery Shopper Scam has been around for decades and as long as it continues to be profitable it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. During these uncertain times as COVID-19 continues to spread globally scammers will continue to exploit the crisis to facilitate fraud and cybercrime.
In this particular case the victim responded to an online advertisement for a mystery shopper as she was looking to make some extra cash. The victim was then contacted by the fake company and was promptly hired to go shopping at various local businesses. She was instructed to document whether the stores were following COVID-19 regulations & recommendations, as well the victim had to rate their overall customer service experience with the business.
The victim was then surprised to receive a genuine looking cheque in the mail for a total of $2,980. The victim thought it was odd to receive such a large cheque as the payment was supposed to be $400 per completed survey. The scammer then contacted the victim and informed the victim that the over-payment was a mistake and she was instructed to send them back the excess in the form of a bank draft for $2580.
The victim ended up sending the funds to the scammer and shortly thereafter the victim was notified by her bank that the original cheque had bounced. The victim is now out the money and her chances of ever getting the money back are very unlikely.
Here are some warning signs to help protect yourself
- Be mindful of where you post your resume or who you provide your email address to; Scammers often use legitimate websites to seek out victims.
- A legitimate employer will never send funds and request a portion of it back.
- Do your research. A simple search on the internet can save you thousands of dollars.
- Beware of unsolicited text messages and emails offering employment
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
To learn more about common frauds and how to report a fraud you can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre.ca or 1-888-495-8501.