12 On Your Side: Jobless woman taken by secret shopper scam

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

Here's how you can avoid becoming a victim in a secret shopper scam:

  • Avoid unsolicited emails
  • Never deposit a check/money order from someone you don't know
  • Never pay upfront for any job

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Aug. 26, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- If you're looking for work, chances are you may have thought about a job as a mystery shopper. But before you take the next step, the biggest one is wiring money.

Emily Wynn says she has been unemployed and just wanted a job, and while her situation is bad, it could have been a whole lot worse.

"I am currently unemployed, so when this happened, I thought it was gonna be something," says Wynn.

She says she thought she found her dream job when she got a package in the mail.

"A very good opportunity of me being a secret shopper," says Wynn.

Inside the envelope was a letter with information about her secret shopping assignment and a large sum of money.

"It was a money order for $870. I said, 'Wow, wow this is very legitimate,'" says Wynn.

The letter instructed her to deposit the money order into her bank account and wire a portion, keeping $120 for herself.

Later Wynn says she checked her account and discovered it had been closed.

"I'm in disbelief. I'm shocked, I'm like I know I had money in my account. I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't believe it," says Wynn.

"A legitimate mystery shopper firm is not going to use Western Union," says Gigi Turner with Augusta's Better Business Bureau.

Turner says mystery shopper scams like this one often target those desperate for work.

"Unemployed people are more prone to become victims because they are in a situation where they need assistance and they need it quickly," says Turner.

Meanwhile, Wynn says losing what money she had in her account and not getting a job has been a devastating blow.

"Somebody would take advantage of somebody. It really, It really hurt my heart," says Wynn.

She says her bank account was closed before she ever got a chance to wire any money, which she says was the only fortunate thing in this situation.

To avoid being victimized by a secret shopper scam, avoid unsolicited emails. Also never deposit a check or money order from someone you don't know into your bank account and never pay up front for any job.

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