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Secret shopper schemes on the increase
WASHINGTON (1/21/10)--Credit unions should warn their members there's been an increase in employment schemes pertaining to mystery/secret shopper positions, and some are asking for financial account information so the salary can be deposited in their account. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said Wednesday fraudsters have learned that many retail and service corporations--including credit unions--hire evaluators to perform secret or random checks on their service or their competitors, and the fraudsters are capitalizing on this. Victims receive e-mail or U.S. mail urging them to apply as a mystery shopper. Applicants are asked to send a resume and are subject to a background check before being hired. The fraudster sends the shoppers a check with instructions to shop at a specific retailer for a specific length of time and spend a specific amount on the store's merchandise. The shopper is to note the environment, color, payment procedures, gift items and shopping/carrier bags, and report back to the employer. The second trip evaluates the ease and accuracy of wiring money from the retail location. The money is included in a check received by the victim shopper. The remaining balance is the employee's pay for the assignment. After the merchandise is purchased and the money wired, the shopper learns the check is counterfeit, and the shopper is responsible for the money lost and fees incurred. In other versions, applicants are requested to provide bank account information to have money directly deposited into their account. This gives the fraudster access to the victim's accounts and money, making the victim an identity theft victim. The e-mails also have a pop-up that cannot be easily closed. The user clicks on the pop-up to purchase the software and must fill out a form that collects payment information. The user is charged for bogus software. Sometime malicious codes are installed on the computer. For tips to give members about avoiding becoming a victim, use the link.
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