Scammers continue to exploit job seekers, but the "Shopper Needed" scam isn't just enlisting innocent folks into illegal money laundering activities. The scam is also exploiting the good name of JM Ridgway, a legitimate professional shopper service. Bear that in mind when reading the copy below - though the scammers use the name Ridgway, it is not affiliated in any way with the real JM Ridgway company.
The shopper-needed scam sends the 'new hire' a check for a few hundred dollars, instructing them to cash the check and take their portion, then forward on the remaining funds to the "employer". Of course, the check is bogus, it will bounce eventually, and you - the victim - will be liable for the funds you spent from the check, plus the amount you forwarded on, plus any service fees or fines that result. And never assume that because a bank releases funds after 5 days, that the check has actually cleared. That grace period has no bearing on whether the check is good.
Following is a copy of one of the email sent by the shopper-needed criminals:
From: MYSTERY SHOPPER
Subject: Job Opening: Shopper Needed!!!
Date: Monday, February 23, 2009, 7:15 PM
Ridgway Shopper® is accepting applications for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers. It's fun and rewarding, and you choose when and where you want to shop. You are never obligated to accept an assignment. There is no charge to become a shopper and you do not need previous experience. After you sign up, you will have access to training materials via e-mail, fax or postal mail.
Ridgway Shopper® is the premier mystery shopping company, serving clients across America and Canada with over 500,000 shoppers available and ready to help businesses better serve their customers. Continual investment in the latest internet and communication technologies coupled with over 16 years of know-how means working with Ridgway Shopper® is a satisfying and rewarding experience.
Secret shopping as seen on ABC NEWS, NBC NEWS, L.A..TIMES. Stores and organizations such as The Gap, Walmart,Money Gram, Pizza Hut, and Bank. One amongst many others pay for Secret Shoppers to shop in their establishments and report their experiences. On top of being paid for shopping you are also allowed to keep purchases for free. Ridgway Shopper® NEVER charge fees to the shopper. Training, tips for improvement, and shopping opportunities are provided free to registered shoppers. Mystery shoppers are either paid a pre-arranged fee for a particular shop, a reimbursement for a purchase or a combination of both.Ridgway Shopper® has available for immediate assignment an inspection of the customer service of any walmart in your area. You are to shop secretly and invest just $10. This fee will be paid upfront. During this shop you will visit the location and make several observations as regards the customer service.
You will be required to interact with the shop clerk.
The assignment will pay $300.00/ Assignment
This is a classic 'if it sounds to good to be true" tale. It goes without saying that any promise of easy money should be viewed with skepticism. It pays to be suspicious. It doesn't pay to be a victim of a shopper-needed scam.