Mystery shopper scam artists target Vavenby man

A Vavenby resident recently received a cheque for nearly $4,000 in the mail

Cheque for $3

Cheque for $3

It seemed too good to be true. In fact, it was too good to be true.

A Vavenby resident recently received a cheque for nearly $4,000 in the mail.

All he had to do was do a little “mystery shopping” for a company apparently based in Markham, Ontario.

As outlined in a package included with the cheque, he would be paid $430 per week with the possibility of that going up to $750 per week after a few evaluations.

His first assignment would be to evaluate the security and efficiency of the payment systems of a nearby post office, department store or bank or as determined by his coordinator.

More than a little suspicious, the man and his partner took the package and its cheque to Clearwater RCMP. The police in turn suggested they take it to the newspaper.

The mystery shopper scam is just one of several advance payment swindles, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

The victim is sent money in a cheque to deposit in his or her bank account, and given a variety of tasks to carry out.

One of the tasks will be to use a money transfer company to wire a large portion of the money to a name provided, in order to test the money transfer company’s security procedures.

The cheque will prove to be worthless and the victim will be accountable to pay for the funds he or she wired.

According to a Cameron Watt, a board member of the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MSPA) in a recent CBC News report, the mystery shopper scammers are getting more sophisticated and making it more difficult for legitimate mystery shopper companies to attract people to work for them.

Watt gave one iron-clad rule: “Mystery shopping companies don’t send you money in advance and don’t ask you to send your money anywhere.”