Looks like State Senator Carl Kruger is taking the offensive against a scam that, for once, he’s not responsible for (Ed. – oooh, sorry, too low of a blow?).
In all seriousness, the issue is a real one and the senator is looking to do something good here. If you’ve been a victim of the scam described below, get in touch with Kruger’s office.
Here’s the press release:
Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Finance Committee, is seeking additional victims of a mystery shopping scam after a constituent sought his help with a lucrative job offer that went bust.
The constituent, Ms. Gaskowitz, had applied online to be a mystery shopper. While there are many legitimate mystery shopping opportunities, there are many others that aren’t, according to Sen. Kruger. Shady mystery shopping outfits will use ads and unsolicited emails to tempt respondents with a lucrative living by dining at elegant restaurants, shopping at pricey stores or checking into luxurious hotels and then writing about the quality of service.
In the case of Ms. Gaskowitz, she received an email on July 12 asking her to become a mystery shopper for Western Union. She was told that she would receive a money order in the mail. She was to deposit the money in her bank, withdraw the money in cash minus a portion to pay herself, and then go to Western Union to wire the money to a person whose name would be disclosed in a later email. She was then supposed to blog about her experience.
Ms. Gaskowitz did as she was instructed but with unexpected – and unpleasant – results. The money order that was sent to Ms. Gaskowitz turned out to be fake and never cleared. The money that she wired cleared against her personal account, leaving her $2,000 in debt to the bank.
“Being asked to evaluate a money transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram is a popular version of the mystery shopping scam,” said Sen. Kruger. “By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. Individuals are responsible for the checks they deposit, so if a check turns out to be fake, they are responsible for paying the bank back.”
“It’s never a good idea to deposit a check from someone you don’t know, especially if a stranger asks you to wire money,” Sen. Kruger said, “The request to wire money is a telltale sign of a scam. The scam artist knows that once money is wired, it is virtually untraceable and unrecoverable.”
In another version of the scam, a fraudulent outfit will promote a website where consumers can “register” – for a fee – for information or a database leading to a mystery shopping job. Getting into the mystery shopping business should never cost money, Sen. Kruger noted.
Consumers can visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website at mysteryshop.org to search a database of mystery shopping assignments and learn how to apply for them. He said
the association offers certification program for a fee, but you don’t need “certification” to look or apply for assignments in its database.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers to be alert for mystery shopping scams. Sen. Kruger is compiling his own database of victims. If you’ve become an unwitting victim of a mystery shopping scam, call Sen. Kruger’s office at (718) 743-8610 or visit his district office at 2201 Avenue U.