Saturday, July 25, 2009

Re-Victimization and Secret Shopper Scams on the rise

The current economic situation is causing a strain on many people, and scammers are cashing in on it. There has been an increase in Secret Shopper Scams and Re-Victimization Scams in recent months.

Unsuspecting people answer ads placed online for Secret Shoppers or Mystery Shoppers, thinking that this will be a great way for them to earn some extra income to help make ends meet. They are sent official looking letters and forms, and instructed that they will be sent a Cashier's Check or Money Order by the company that they are working for, and they will use that money in their Secret Shopping Assignments. The check arrives, they bring it to the bank and soon they are told that the check has cleared, so they proceed forward with their given assignments. Usually, they are told to go to several different Western Union, Money Gram, or other money wiring locations. Once they have wired the money they fill out an evaluation of the customer service at the location, and send it in and wait for their next assignment.

The problem comes in about a week, when their bank contacts them to let them know that the check was counterfeit. The bank then deducts the amount of the check, sometimes for several thousands of dollars, from their bank account. This leaves the person that was already feeling the strain of the current economic situation in an even tighter spot. There are some people who end up with negative bank accounts.

The other scam on the rise is the Re-Victimization scam, in which the scammer sends a letter saying that they are working with a very official sounding agency, like The Fraud Alert Investigation Agency (FAIA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They explain that they are assisting scam victims in recovering the money that they have lost. Many of the emails and letters will even claim that they are working in efforts with agencies like the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the National White Collar Crime Center, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and most recently our own site,, has been included on this list. Scam victims who are desperate to try to recover any of the money that they have lost may contact these people. They may as for lawyers fees to be paid to recover the money, or ask for the victims's bank account information so that they can deposit the recovered money directly. Both of these are ploys to deceive the victim and drain them of even more money.

To protect yourself from these scams, do not accept any jobs posted online where you do not interview with someone in person before acquiring the job, and do not reply to any emails in which someone tells you that they can help you to recover lost money. Another good safety procedure it to do a search on the name of the person who contacts you, the company that they are claiming to be with, their phone number or email address.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of

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