Beware of secret shopper scams - Fox 2 News Headlines

Beware of secret shopper scams

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

Any chance to make a little extra money before the holidays is welcome, but sometimes there is a fine line between making money and losing money.

Some retailers hire people to go into a store to check out its customer service. For your trouble you make a small amount of money.  It's when you're offered a lot of money that you should say, "wait a minute."

Shanty Watson received a check for $2,194.00 after signing up online to work for Ace Shoppers.  She thought she'd been hired to secretly shop at local retailers, reporting back about customer service.

"I've been actively looking for the past of months now," said Watson.

She was thrilled, and she had strict instructions.

"She said to deposit that check into my account and once I did that, in 24 hours, it'll be active," said Watson.

Watson's high-paying, new part-time job came tumbling down before she got into trouble.  

"Went to the bank and they said, ‘No ma'am, you won't be able to do that.  It's a fraudulent check,'" said Watson.

Without even talking to her, Fred Elsberry of the Atlanta BBB says he can tell you that next she would have been asked to shop for a few items, then send a large chunk of the money back to her employer.  

"Most of this money we want you to wire back to us by Western Union 'cause we want to see how good their service is. And so you wire that money back," explained Elsberry.

According to the National Consumers League there is a spike in secret shopper scams. Elsberry says this is how it generally works.

"The interesting thing is that these people have stolen the bank account number from the company that's on the check. So, if you go to the bank, they'll tell you that's a legit account for that particular company," said Elsberry.

Had the bank not caught this, Watson would have been responsible for paying back nearly $2,000 to the bank. Furious, she called "Ace Shoppers."

"I said, I'm going to report you to FOX 5 and she hung up! And every time I called she kept hanging up," said Watson.

An I-Team investigation connects Ace Shoppers from the Bronx, NY  to another secret shopper company with the same address: Value Shoppers. According to the New York BBB, they're "scammers (who) defrauded consumers of large amounts of money" through the same scheme.

The National Consumers League says that a legit company will never ask you to do a money transfer.  

"I would tell FOX 5 viewers you make sure you do some thorough investigating when you do an application online for mystery shoppers," said Watson.

For more information on how to become a secret or mystery shopper with a legitimate company, visit the Federal Trade Commission and the National Consumer League.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Credit Cards v Charge Cards

    Credit Cards v Charge Cards

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 7:48 AM EDT2014-07-23 11:48:23 GMT
    You always hear that it's a great idea to get rid of your credit cards, but sometimes it really is the best way to pay. So here's another option: charge cards.
    You always hear that it's a great idea to get rid of your credit cards, but sometimes it really is the best way to pay. So here's another option: charge cards.
  • FOX 5 I-Team Investigates

    Child traumatically injured in beach house elevator

    Child traumatically injured in beach house elevator

    Monday, July 21 2014 8:09 AM EDT2014-07-21 12:09:54 GMT
    Another child has been seriously injured in a residential elevator accident. This is a warning for any family renting a beach house.
    Another child has been seriously injured in a residential elevator accident. This is a warning for any family renting a beach house.
  • Governor reacts to Ethics allegations

    Governor reacts to Ethics allegations

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:40:07 GMT
    The Governor sat down with Senior Fox 5 I-Team Reporter Dale Russell for his first television interview following allegations of strong-arming by a member of his staff.
    The Governor sat down with Senior Fox 5 I-Team Reporter Dale Russell for his first television interview following allegations of strong-arming by a member of his staff.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • 'National Dance Day' takes stage nationwide

    'National Dance Day' takes stage nationwide

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:33 AM EDT2014-07-24 13:33:07 GMT
    Nigel Lythgoe Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Judge of the hit FOX TV show “So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)” which reignited America’s passion for dance and has become a pop culture phenomenon, announces that the 5th annual National Dance Day will take place on Saturday, July 26.
    Nigel Lythgoe Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Judge of the hit FOX TV show “So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)” which reignited America’s passion for dance and has become a pop culture phenomenon, announces that the 5th annual National Dance Day will take place on Saturday, July 26.
  • Former "X Factor" Favorite Opens Studio, Trains Future Superstars

    Former "X Factor" Favorite Opens Studio, Trains Future Superstars

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:05 AM EDT2014-07-24 13:05:59 GMT
    Any fan of FOX's "The X Factor" will remember Tara Simon, a Top 24 finalist on Season 2. She didn't go all the way on the show, but her career
     Any fan of FOX's "The X Factor" will remember Tara Simon, a Top 24 finalist on Season 2. She didn't go all the way on the show, but her career as a singer -- and singing coach -- couldn't be going better.
Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices