How Mystery Shopping & Work at Home Scams Trick You (with real life examples and what to do with them)

This story is very familiar.

You fill out some form online or answer some ads. The company, usually with very official letterhead, mails you a massive check of a few thousand bucks. You’re told to deposit the check, buy hundreds or thousands of dollars in gift cards, take photos of them and email them back, and keep the change as your fee. You need to write up your experience as part of the “job.”

It sounds “safe” enough, right? You deposit the check, the funds are available in a day, and you go do your job. Except after a few days, the check will bounce, the bank will take back the funds, and now you’re out the money you spent.

It’s happened over and over and over again.

Here are two real-life examples and then how you can prevent it.

Table of Contents
  1. Why This Scam Tricks So Many People
  2. What Does This Scam Look Like in Real Life?
    1. Mystery Shopping Scam #1
    2. Mystery Shopping Scam #2
  3. Massive Red Flags for This Scam
  4. What Should I Do With The Fake Check?

Why This Scam Tricks So Many People

When you deposit an official check (U.S. Treasury, government checks, bank checks like cashier’s checks, certified checks and teller’s checks), under Federal law the bank must make the funds available to you in one business day.

For unofficial checks (personal, business), banks must make the first $200 available after one business day and the rest after another day.

But that doesn’t mean the check has cleared! And it won’t clear!

The funds are available but the bank has not confirmed that the checks are good. That process can take several days to several weeks. Until the bank confirms it, you are responsible.

Scammers take advantage of that glitch in the system. What happens is that you deposit the check, federal law says the bank must give you access to the funds (even though the bank hasn’t received them), and you think the check is good because the money is in your account.

The scammer gets you to you spend money on gift cards as quickly as possible (that’s why they are so pushy). They do this because eventually the bank will tell you the check is bad, they take back the money (rightfully), and you’re on the hook for it.

That’s why all the checks will be “official” checks (cashier’s check, etc.) and not a business check, like from a mystery shopping company.

What Does This Scam Look Like in Real Life?

After seeing two real-life examples, it’s astounding how much information is on these “cashier’s checks,” in quotes because they are not real.

A real cashier’s check from a bank is very plain. These checks are chock full of officially looking crap.

A cashier’s check will not have the “purchaser” because there is no purchaser, the check is technically from the bank itself. It also won’t list an issuer location, like Walmart or MoneyGram, because the bank issues it.

That alone is a red flag (besides the fact that a stranger sent you thousands of dollars on the hopes you won’t just run with it) but that’s only if you’re familiar with cashier’s checks.

Let’s look at two real-life examples…

Mystery Shopping Scam #1

A reader emailed me because they were recruited by a mystery shopping company. At least they thought they were.

They were researching the company and found my post about mystery shopping scams, saw the company they were working with on my list of OK companies, but still felt suspicious (good!).

It turns out, anyone can copy a logo, get a Google Voice number that matches the area code, and pretend to be an employee of that company. In this case, they pretended to be an employee of About Face, an Atlanta-based mystery shopping company listed in the MSPA, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.

She sent me a photo of the check and the very official-looking letter.

Very official looking, eh?
An even more official looking letter!

First, the massive size of the check is a classic check overpayment scam. You see this with Craigslist a ton. You’re selling a thneed for like $500 and someone says “oh here’s a $3,250 check some other jabroni sent me but I can’t cash it, can you cash it, give me the thneed and the extra cash, and keep another $100 for yourself.” Or some BS like that.

(it’s BS because anyone can cash a cashier’s check, it’s an official bank check!)

Besides the large amount, the check also says issued by Moneygram Payment Systems (huh?) and then Drawee says BOKF, NA, Eufaula, OK. It seems strange right?

What convinced me it was a fraud was the ABA routing number. 103100551 doesn’t match the name of the bank on the check. 103100551 matches Bank of Oklahoma, A Division of BOKF, National Association but the check was from “Jordan Credit Union.” (look up ABA numbers here)

BOKF is what it says under Drawee… so is the check from Jordan Credit Union or BOKF? Oh wait, it’s an official check issued by Moneygram, it says so right there!

Too many banks in the kitchen on this one!

If you even believe that Jordan Credit Union is real (which I do not), you could check the NCUA.gov website though it would be hard to confirm since the check has no address (another reddish flag). There is a Jordan Credit Union located in Utah and it shares the same logo… but why would an Atlanta based company use a credit union in Utah? (and their ABA routing number is 324379705, not 103100551)

The answer…. is that they wouldn’t. Nor would they use Moneygram when they can just write you a business check for free.

But a scammer would set it up this way because of how checks are processed.

Mystery Shopping Scam #2

This one is allegedly from Target, here is the check and the letter.

I’m **sure** Target uses surveyjobs003@aol.com for official correspondence.
They need to refill the ink in their printer!

What is fishy about this one? A lot.

The first suspicious thing is that email correspondence will be with surveyjobs003@aol.com — not something Target would do. I mean seriously… you have to do better than that.

I emailed that email address according to the instructions (with a disposable email address of course, how big of a fool do you take me for???) and got no response, so don’t bother trying to mess with them. I didn’t dare text. 🙂

You can also Google the phone number, 585-391-0687, to see if there are any reports of fraud… I found at least one on AngryCitizen.com:

Good recommendation!

If this wasn’t enough to trigger your internal fraud alarm to stay away, here’s a look at the ABA number.

The ABA routing number (314972853) does match Woodforest National Bank but not the one in Texas. In Texas, they use 113008465 (except for their branch in Refugio, Texas).

Not good. Check bad.

Massive Red Flags for This Scam

Here’s what I look for:

  • If they require you to pay them anything. If they require you to pay an application fee or a certification fee or take a paid class, it’s a scam. If they require you to pay a membership fee to access a special list or pay extra to get priority access, it’s a scam. You will never pay a legitimate company.
  • A high dollar check – Why would they pay you thousands of dollars just to have you spend it on thousands of dollars in gift cards, money orders, etc? They give you $3,000 and have you spend $2,700 and keep $300? They wouldn’t because that would be insane. That’s probably why you found this page in the first place.
  • Using a cashier’s check or money order – If you were a big business and did these reviews constantly, why would you pay the fee to get a money order or cashier’s check? You can just as easily cut a regular check. Except there are no laws that require a regular check to clear in a single day, which is the loophole scammers use.
  • If they contacted you through an online posting. This happens a lot if you post your resume online and they scan your email. It’s likely a scam because mystery shopping companies often have more shoppers than opportunities.
  • If they ask for sensitive personal information. They don’t need more than your name and address to send you a check (or email for Paypal). They don’t need your social security number, that’s a big red flag.
  • They use a free email account – A reputable company can get an email address that matches their name and not one from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, etc.
  • If they make seemingly unreasonable promises. Do you get to keep a ton of merchandise? Will you be inundated with jobs? Will you make a fortune? Will it only take a few minutes a day? All lies and usually these promises are there to get you to pay the fee. The reality is you’ll get about $15-20 a task. It’s nice extra cash but you will not get rich.
  • Check the ABA routing number – The scam relies on a bad check but one that takes more than a day to confirm, so an ABA routing number that is real but doesn’t match the bank is one great way to fool the system for a little while.
  • You can always call the bank to verify the check – OK let’s say you do as much research as you can, everything appears 100% legitimate, and you don’t believe me when I say sending a $3,000 check for a $3000 is fishy… you can the bank’s check verification services for confirmation. Don’t call a number on the check, look up the bank online and call that.
  • Did it come by UPS or FedEx? This is more of a light red flag but scammers use these services because if they sent it by the United States Postal Service, it’s mail fraud. Mail fraud is a federal offense.
  • They’re not in the Mystery Shopper Providers Association. There are enough legitimate mystery shopping companies in the MSPA that I’m confident saying you should skip the ones not in it. Do yourself a favor and start with those first.

Last but not least, if you aren’t sure… use my foolproof anti-scam strategy: ask five friends. They’ll set you straight.

Here are some reputable companies (all are in the MSPA) that we know about:

Remember, a scammer can pretend to be from one of these companies, just like that previous scammer said they were from Target.

What Should I Do With The Fake Check?

If you think it’s fake, it’s time to report it to the proper authorities.

You should report your fake check to the authorities by:

They will investigate it and, hopefully, catch the scammer or scam ring.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

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Toluna Review 2021: Make Money with Online Surveys

Toluna can be one of the most exciting ways to make money with online surveys as you can choose from many topics. But the redemption options are relatively limited for gift cards and the cash redemption minimum is high.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Wallet Squirrel says

    Dude these are insane, I havn’t done a mystery shopper experiement yet but now going to be doubly cautious!

    I’d also add to your list of what to do, add the company and check name to AngryCitizen.com or Yelp. Usually, people trying to find out by a scam will check these first and not the FTC Complaint Assistant.

    Anyway I could try this and tell the Scammers that I buried the money in the desert at 8.0093 by 9.98349 because I think banks are unsafe? =)

    • Jim Wang says

      Aren’t they so nuts? It’s such an old scam, just a new approach… what sucks is that the people who fall prey aren’t financially savvy (most people aren’t, to be honest) to know that the fake cashier’s check can “clear” in a day but not really clear. So it goes… hope this post helps educate some folks so they don’t fall into the trap.

      I always loved those guys who would scam the Nigerian419 scammers. You should do it!

      • Steven D Etnire says

        I do to. The Nigerians sending an email saying I had a check for $2,000,000.00 waiting and all I had to do was send them $2,000.00 to have it released and sent to me.
        I usually emailed them back and told them to take the $2,000.00 out of the 2 million dollar check by asking whoever it was from and write 2 checks. Then send me the $1.998 million dollar check and he can cash the $2,000 check.
        I also received 2 checks just last month, each for $3,980.00 made out to me, but had a address from a Technology Company and endorsed by Commerce Bank with no address. So I called Commerce bank and they said they couldn’t tell me if checks were bad, so I called the technology company and finally got Payroll person and she said NO they weren’t from their. Then she went and asked for copies of everything, including the USPS (by the way thanks for talking about items coming thru USPS and it being a Federal Crime) cardboard envelopes they came in with a tracking code on it.
        I’m sure by now the scammers have moved on since they never called me to verify if I got checks and if I had taken pics of the 4 money orders, each for $880.00 at the each Wal-mart stores. I was suppose to be evaluating two Wal-mart stores making $660 per store, but like you, with no address under bank flagged my attention. Besides I had scammers trying to do the same thing 8 months ago for checks each totaling $3,200 (my commission was $500 for each Wal-mart store) and I did same thing by calling the banks to verify checks, but they both told me those checks had already been cashed, not like Commerce Bank who wouldn’t tell me anything.

  2. Rob says

    Here is a simple rule of thumb for mystery shopping. If they every send you money up front, it’s a scam!!! Why would a company that doesn’t know you send you money up front expecting you to send the majority back to them in some form? Simple Answer: The don’t. I’ve dealt with over 30 companies and NONE of them ever send you money up front!

  3. Lin says

    I love this post because it teaches a valuable lesson There are scammers out there and this helps you stay on your toes Sorry to say but, people are not always honest and articles like this always interest me Thanks for the tips

  4. Shaun says

    I’m a bit confused. How exactly are the scammers making money? Were there some additional instructions not shown? You initial paragraph says the shoppers are supposed to take pictures of the gift cards and send them to the scammers. OK, I can see how they can then use the numbers and get the money from the cards, but I can’t find anything in either letter that tells the shoppers to do this. Or do the shoppers get a text after the purchase telling them to take the photos?

    • Aaron P Smith says

      i have one right here in front of me that says go buy apple gift cards and scratch off the spots and reveal numbers and sent them a text message at 530-270-9349 and its daniel kippne , MBA

        • Susan Cerrito says

          I saw an advertisement to secret shop at Walmart they want me to buy gift cards. I instantly felt it in my
          stomach . If you feel funny about it dont do it! I have cancer and I need the money bad but Im not putting that cashier’s check in my bank. Mine did come USPS though so Im going to GET RID OF IT, I SUGGEST YOU DO THE SAME. Especially if ifs 3000.00 and they want you to buy cards.

  5. Michelle Sharrah says

    What about ones they say they need your bank account information to deposit funds into? Is there a way to make sure this is legit?

    • Jim Wang says

      If you don’t trust them, ask for a check. Unfortunately, there’s no 100% safe way to know if it’s legit and I’d be hesitant to share my bank account information with anyone I don’t trust 100%.

  6. Diane weaver says

    So glad I read your article. Just received a check from Field Market Research for $2980. Yes, same request that is, go to three different stores and purchase ITunes cards. I have to admit, it was tempting but my husband was the voice of reason. He’s going to say “I told you so’ after he reads your article. Thanks!

    • Jim Wang says

      This is exactly why I wrote the post – you don’t know how happy you made me. I’ve so sick of these scammers doing garbage like this!

      To be fair, you didn’t fall for the scam so when he says “I told you so” you can tell him “tell me what? I didn’t do anything!”

      • Lisa Dylla says

        Second to none sent me a cashiers check for 2,390 and the exact same letter you posted. They are rushing me to deposit it. Thank you for your info I almost fell for it

      • Carol says

        I just got a check in the mail all most $2000 bucks to go by iTunes gift cards and take a picture of them.and the receipt and send it to them and I keep 300 + 45 for gas and the transportation I know this is illegal so there’s no way in hell I’m doing this just happened to me once before but I turn the last one in over to the bank and I don’t know what they done with it I didn’t want to know I don’t care but this one I’m taking to the cops.

      • Jennifer Walker says

        My daughter is in college and just received 3 checks totalling overt $2800 to be a “mystery shopper”. Thank goodness she mentioned it in our phone call and we stopped her. Your article confirms what we suspected, that it’s a scam. Unfortunately, many students at her school signed up for this. I alerted the school, but I’m sure students have been scammed out of a lot of money. We will be alerting the authorities.

  7. Malika J says

    Something told me when I received a check for $1983 to do paid survey to look a little further into this cause I wasn’t comtable with the letter they sent and the large amount to do a survey. so I goggled the company name on the check Which was Haborlight Credit union which the address matched what was on the check then I goggled the payable through bank which BONK NA EUGAULA, OK which I came across this website thank you ,thank you ,thank you after reading I realize this was a scam it’s a shame this goes on this day and time good thing I wasn’t greedy for the money. I need to report this.

  8. James Rodriguez says

    I guess I got Scam – I got the same type letter from Select Marketing Research Group out of Buffalo NY 14203 Tel 716 313-9180 – and a Check for $1,983.00 – now I guess I should have known, but the way things are I was broke and it came on my Birthday noless – man can’t get a break, now the problem is I spent a few dollars, my wife told me not to use it, well I did not much but enough to worry since I’m on SSD and when the check bounces I will need to payup quickly or my bank will close my account…
    My son told me to rush to the Bank and let them know so that maybe I can avoid the Bounce Check fee, and Lock up the funds so that when it bounces they can get the funds back….. Man o Man… Why me Lord…….

  9. Ginger says

    Thanks for the information. Solidify my suspicions. Applied for a mystery shopping job for Kroger’s by E-mail. Dear “John S” texted me at 3am asking if I had received my payment instructions. Your Target example is exactly the same letter I received, except it is Kroger’s. The text at 3am set my alarms off.

    Going to report this.

    Thanks again.

  10. Kathy G. says

    Hello, I just came across your post. I have done some of the online surverys where you earn a penny a point. Now I regret letting them know my range of income. I also when signing up for it chose to receive other surveys through my mail or email. Last week I received 3 day priority mail. A cashier check for 2,650. Of which I’m supposed to deposit it. Then let them know through a text that I have done so. Then go to an Apple store and purchase 2 Gift Cards. One for 1k then the other for 1400. The left over 250 is to be mine. I see you have posted above a copy of a cashier check that looks very much like the one I received. WoodForest National Bank. Issued from a Walmart in Urbana Ill. The return address on the envelope is with a Bob Argento, in York PA. I looked the name up on FB. He is a person that is part of a Real Estate co. in York PA. I thought about writing him to ask if he knows anything about this. The company doing the survey is called. Ask Markets LLC Actionable Intelligence Delivery #1 Employer of Mystery Shoppers. (220) 201 4133. When I get a photo of the check and instruction page with the survey questions on the back I will send it to you. Please tell me what you think.

    • Aaron P Smith says

      i have same letter but cant get a picture of it in here for some reason and mine was for 2990 to buy 2 cards and keep the rest of it bad part is i do live in tx so this could be a problem and i am gonna try to get to the bottom of it since this came via usps oh and i got a number of (530)270-9439

  11. not falling for it says

    I have the same letter with a phone number of 914 206 3107 the bank is National Bank of Andrews P.O. box 629 1501 North Main Andrews, TX 79714 they want me to review an Apple store and purchase gift cards. I believe this is definitely a scam. How do I report this?

  12. Jennifer says

    So I am very glad that I read your entire article because I seems that the scammers were in fact dumb enough to mail me the check using the United States Postal Service, which does make my case mail fraud. Way to go guys. Good luck with that!! I’m not touching this one, you’re not going to get me that easily. You just need to use common sense. I honestly thought I was making 20 dollars for this “job,” not 200!!! Anyway thank you for your helpful information!!

  13. Kim says

    Thank goodness I did research and found you! Plus told my sister and got a “to good to be true” comment. Sent an email to the place saying I received it, then immediately got a text. Letter was from my survey results, texts were from American Consumer Opinion. The texts were what alarmed me. Bad grammar/English and they were pushing me to “Mobile” deposit the check. A lone text that just said Hello.

    I almost fell for this! Check is for $2900.42, I keep $400. Letter said to go to any store listed (and there were a ton) and buy $2500 worth of EBay gift cards, scratch off etc, just like your letters. Exact instructions as letters you showed.

    Thank goodness I listened to my gut and my sister and did research!

    Mine came USPS too!

  14. Stephanie says

    I received a official cashier’s check from Collective Research Group for my first mystery shopper assignment for $1960.30 to purchase $1600 of ebay gift cards and then send them the gift card information. The bank in TCF Bank and when I called their check verification line, they are not recognizing the account number (huge red flag) I am thinking this is a total scam, it was sent by USPS and the research guy keeps on texting me for updates. I was about to tell him I am not doing anything until the check clears my bank, but I was not sure if that is the right thing to do. I don’t want to be out almost $2K, so i am not doing anything with the check. what should I tell the guy who keeps on texting me. and his email address is from gmail.

    • Jim Wang says

      If it were me, I’d ignore all contact from now on… and then send the fake check to the authorities.

  15. Kelley says

    Hi Jim,
    I was reading your post and noticed that you said you responded to the scammers using a different email and that, in no way, would you have used your phone to text them back. Well, while I didn’t cash the check they sent, I did text them back with my personal cell phone……..did I do something that could come back and bite me? I got worried when you made it a point to say you wouldn’t text them using your phone. Can they do something underhanded using my cell phone number or somehow, get any of my personal information?

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know for certain but my guess is I don’t think it’ll come back to bite you. If you ignore them or block them, eventually they’ll give up and move onto the next person.

  16. Shana says

    So glad I came across your post. I didn’t trust it and had to research. The check looked official, but the letter not so much. I figured if a company can afford to send a $2,950 check, they can certainly afford better letterhead. What’s interesting is the company has texted me as well to make me aware of the shipment. I received it from Priority mail today and after reading your post about mail fraud, I am certainly going to report them. I just feel so bad for the people who fall for this and lose so much money. My heart breaks for them cause it’s probably the people who need it most. My check came from F&M Bank, 50 Franklin, St, Clarksville, TN 37040 and I was instructed to buy Apple Gift cards. Thank you!

  17. Shelly says

    I just received a check today. Normally I don’t pay attention to these emails, but this place was sent to me from the job placement center at my college. The company’s website looks legit, but after reading your blog I have suspicions. Mine was for the apple store and the instructions say their verified agent will retrieve the items at the store immediately after purchase. I now have an email to the credit union the check was drawn upon to confirm if the check to fake. I will be reporting these people.

  18. Joe P says

    I received a check for $2,950 to go out and buy 2 Gift Cards from the Apple Store near me, and keep $300. I did sign up to be a Secret Shopper through Southern New Hampshire University just to make a few extra bucks for Christmas shopping. My question is why not just go to a Check Cashing place and cash the check there? Let them pay out the funds, then keep their 2% or whatever, and then if it bounces I believe they go after the people who wrote the bad check.

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t recommend this. I don’t think the check cashing place will accept it.

      There’s also the issue of you trying to pass a fraudulent check. If you don’t believe it, it’s hard to argue that you didn’t know.

  19. LeAnne says

    Just received a check for 2997.00$ with instructions to email as soon as it was received. They have my cell phone number and have been texting me to do a “secret shopping “ assignment to buy gift cards and scratch off the back and send them pictures…. ummmm nope!
    It came from Hall and Partners. The check routing number does not match any routing numbers in my search.

  20. Mitchell says

    In the last week, since I submitted some job applications, either on the company’s own site or one from a legitimate job posting business, I have been swamped with emails telling me that “my check” is ready to be sent out to me. The messages don’t say anything explicit about my needing to do shopping, taking surveys, or any specific tasks that I would be expected to undertake in recompense.

    These have come from sites identified as quickjobalert.com, mycareerfriend.com, choosemycareer.com, myelitejobs.com, and mydigitalsurvey.com, among others. Interestingly, when I open the security details, every single one of these, is listed as being mailed by mx.sailthru.com and signed by pmta.sailthru.com. I have never received these mailings before, so, regrettably, I’m assuming that this sailthru.com, is a third party that the legitimate business sites I applied to, is connected with, and now I’m identifiable to a raft of such sites.

    A few of the communications mention that the money represents missing checks, that have been found, in my name, but that’s about it, with nothing, as far as obligations I would be expected to fulfill. I must admit, that in looking up a number of these addresses, I’ve been unable to find any references to them on scam detection sites that I’ve looked at before. This is surprising to me, as the template that I’m seeing on these (with checks up to $1000 being hawked) definitely seems to be bogus.

    It seems foolish to even think of wasting any time at all, with these, but it would appear that the only risk you might be extending, in following through and responding to see if you actually receive these checks, and then deposit them, is if you subsequently use any of those funds. If you simply wait, until it has totally cleared, and then find the funds don’t exist, all that would occur is your being assessed a bounced check fee, from your bank, which, as long as such a charge didn’t take the account into a negative balance, nothing untowards could be levied or subsequently used against you.

    If you would first, kindly, comment on your impression of the scenario I described, that has just developed and descended on me, over a matter of days, and then the accuracy of not truly being at risk, if none of the money from the checks forwarded, is touched, until it’s thoroughly vetted, it would be much appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Jim Wang says

      I would not bother with this. There’s a pretty good chance that they’re scams, those fees would be horrendous, and now you get on the radar of these scammers as someone to contact. I would not get involved.

  21. Denise McCoy says

    Just picked my mail up at my “mail box”. I recieved an envelope with “Sophie Bourget (and address)”. It’s a mystery shopper survey assignment. The check is for $2950.00 now I’m suppose to deposit it in my account(which I don’t have) I’m suppose to get an Apple gift card for $2600.00 I’m suppose to get $300.00-400.00 and miscellaneous is $50.00. I’m suppose to email her as soon as I get my packet (323-880-0265) take pictures of the gift cards with the scratched off area and the receipts.
    The check is cashier’s and Lebanon Federal Credit Union (with address) etc. I’m taking to the bank and letting them verify it for me but I don’t believe it at all. The letter is questionable and Grammer isn’t correct just sounds to fishy

  22. Michael Wystepek says

    I received the exact same letter, exact same phone number and exact assignment as Denise McCoy, but I received three checks of $985 equaling $2,955. Now wait, It get’s better. Besides the poor grammar, the letter is from a David Hesse, MBA Survey Co-ordinator but the return address has Collin Anderson from Lansdowne, PA. Furthermore, it came through USPS stamped from New York City. I looked up Lansdowne, PA and it’s located 6 miles Southwest of Philadelphia. Quite the distance for a reroute. The checks are personal money orders from Fidelity Bank, which when I looked up the ABA came back as Fidelity Bank in North Carolina. But, it has marked on the check RE: Janice Logan. Contacting the AG office on Monday.

  23. Cel says

    Could one not go to a check cashing place to cash one of these checks instead of using your own bank? My guess is they probably have software or a verification process to avoid falling prey to scams / that way you know it’s a scam and either you or the check cashing place can report it.

  24. Joann Madding says

    I just received from Consumer service Actionable intelligence Delivery. 940-226-2609..A money order for $1,000 to go to the go to a neighborhood Apple Store . Buy a $700 gift card. Keep the $300. Then Report back to them with store location addesss , the cashier name, how long it took. Woukd you return to this stire. Rate your experience. Text a picture of your purchase. If they ask you if you are a secret shopper day no..Signed Survey Co- Ordinator Ricky Ford,MBA

  25. Be careful says

    I am glad I took the time to research and ran across your article. I just received a check for $1,750 from Actionable Intelligence Deliver which is performing a Mystery shoppers survey on a local company. I check was to purchase two $750 gift cards from a well known company. I decided to dig a little to locate the bank thanks to the NCUA.org website. I spoke with the rep at the bank who confirmed the check I received is not a valid check. Please be careful of the scam! Not sure how it would have worked for this company to get money but I didn’t want to have to repay the bank

  26. Kathleen R says

    So glad I’m saavy and searched my “shopper” survey.
    Mine was from David Soto, 20 Monroe St, NY, NY 10002. Official USPS Priority Mail envelope with a “certified check” for $2350 from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 100 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, Fl, 33149 and my secret shop was at my local Apple Store within 30 miles. I just searched the bank routing link you provided and there is no Wells Fargo in Florida. Geez, I am struggling here in Florida after two years of life struggles. My young son was in a severe vehicle accident two years ago and my older son recently passed, yesterday (April 16) was his birthday. Something (now I know my angel) told me to research this fully. This surely would have put me financially over the edge! Thank you so much

  27. Nick evatt says

    I got this through the priority mail i am going to send you a picture of the cashiers check and the letter please let me know if it is fake my husband is suffering from tramatic brain injury amd he talked to these people on the phone and wanted to know if he would like to be a mystery shopper he told them yes.

  28. Jim says

    Hey! They are getting smarter. I received a check and several emails from SIS International Market Research for 2890. 2500 for Walmart Gift Cards (that I needed to send pics of – undoubtedly so they can clear them out, $350 for me and $40 to go make a purchase at the GAP to which I was also mystery shopping and turning in a write-up. SIS International seems like a legit company and I actually do this type of work through my own company. Something told me that it was a scam and thankfully I just waited it out because the funds were available the next day and then the day after that they were pulled due to NSF on the check. I received via USPS so I am going to report them for mail fraud among other things. Beware people.

  29. Omar says

    Be aware of Actionable Intelligence delivery. I just wonder why the government does not trace them and take legal actions against them. They are trying to scam many people, some fall in the scam. I think it is time for FBI to intervene and put those junk people where they belong. They should not be allowed to continue they way they do. All these kind of scams should be put in news and TV so that people have knowledge

  30. Caroline Valencia says

    I got this check asking me to buy 2500.00 in Apple store gift cards .thanks for
    Information I will not cash it i kind of thought to good to be true

  31. Claudia Lopez says

    I just got a check for $2,250 to buy four Best Buy gift cards and I’ve been instructed to not only send them a picture of the cards but send them a picture of the cards with the silver stripe that protects the code scratched off… as of it couldn’t be any fishier. I know it’s a scam but I saw you mentioned if this was sent by USPS, which it was and I have pictures from Informed Delivery, that this is mail fraud. How can I report this?

    • Jim Wang says

      Was it for thousands of dollars? And do they expect you to buy hundreds of dollars of gift cards, send them the codes, and “write about your experience?”

      If so, it sounds like a scam.

  32. Jessica says

    Glad I read this. I just got two Postal Money Orders for $975.00 each. I would love your thought s and help and you could use this as another example since this is a money order from the post office.

    These people make me sick.

  33. L. Hall says

    Received a check for $2800 from Comerica Bank for a store/shop evaluation job to be done at Walmart. I was to deposit the check then email & text them location so they would know where I would be. I was to purchase $2,400 worth or Walmart gift cards and then complete a survey and email then the answers about the survey.

    Do not do it! If you get anything from the following, get rid of it immediately! Correspondence came from

    John Simpson
    HR Manager
    585-714-2921
    Surveyjobs002@aol.com

  34. Wanda Majkol says

    I just found your site from a different site, It has good info. I worked in banking for many years, when I retired I wanted to find something I could do on my own time, and make some money doing it.
    That was 1995, and it was before the Mystery Shoppers started using the internet. It was ads in the Newspapers to fine the work, I applied to several companies, it took 6 months before I had an offer to start working from home. It was fun, it was by phone, and overnight shipping. A company would call to see if you would be able to do the shop(s). I did mystery shops on all types of business, setups in retail, and Theaters (blind shops, head counts, displays setup. etc. Gas stations, apartments and more. Yes, and I was paid to do them, generally $5. to $25.00. Part of the time I would get a call that was a rush, some body wasn’t able to do their assignment, I would have to be there within an hour, for that the pay was raised up to doubled! They overnight the paperwork and I would do the shop, call a report in, and overnight the finished documents, receipts on buying something, and overnight it to the company. That was the way it was done in those days. They finally setup on the internet, much simpler and a lot faster! The companies would mail checks, after they received the paperwork and they received payment from their clients. Your pay was what they had stated plus reimbursement for out of pocket. Their were very few time that they would pay up front! If the shop was a costly shop they would send a check, depending on the type of shop. If the shop required you to spend $50, (a nice dinner and drink for two). Ended up my husband and son was doing shops also. The saw that I was really getting paid to have fun!
    Now days, you make more money, like everything else prices go up!

    • Jim Wang says

      It can take a long time for checks to clear. Banks will often put the cash into your account as a courtesy but then take it out when the check bounces days later.

  35. Casey E Nyembe says

    I received one of these check. I looked at it and wonder how I can play these guys back though. I didn’t take it to my Bank.becouse. it looks good enough to me but the idea of having to buy gift cards and send them back it turned on the red flag somehow thanks for your feedback Jim.

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