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Authorities warn of mystery shopper scam
by Tribune Staff
Oct 26, 2010 | 588 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARSON CITY — The Nevada Attorney General’s Office is warning that some residents have received e-mails offering employment as “mystery shoppers.” The company offering the employment position claims “you will be provided funds in advance for any upcoming survey via cashier's checks and wire transactions to cover expenses.”

According to the attorney general, the consumer will receive a cashier's check from the company and are told to cash the check immediately and do a “mystery shopping” investigation of either Western Union or Moneygram by wiring money back to the company. Alternately, the consumer is instructed to buy one or two small items and then wire the remainder of the money back to the company. Wiring money back to the company that originally provided the cashier's check is a reoccurring theme in this scam.

The cashier's check is either stolen or a forgery and the consumer is instructed to act immediately because the check will bounce and the scammers want the victim to wire money back to them before the bank — and the victim — discovers the check is a forgery. If the check is cashed, the victim will be required to pay the bank for the moneys paid on the forged check, and any money wired to the company will likely end up offshore, in this case Western Samoa.

The Nevada attorney general warns Nevada citizens to never wire money to anyone who is not personally known to the sender. Scammers use wire transfers because those transfers cannot be traced. The person receiving the money for the scam often is hired to pick up the money and transfer it to someone else. Money sent by wire transfer cannot be traced or refunded and, if sent out of the country, cannot be retrieved. In almost all of the cases referred to the attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, the payee listed on the check does not match the name of the so-called lottery, sweepstakes or mystery shopping service. This is a quick indication that the checks are probably stolen. 

Before cashing a lottery, sweepstakes or mystery shopper check, call the Bureau of Consumer Protection at (775) 684-1169 for information on a possible scam in progress. Because wired money is untraceable and not recoverable, especially if it is wired out of the country, there is little the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection can do to help consumers who have already fallen victim to this scam. 
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