NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - It's a tempting way to earn a few extra bucks.
Companies pay "mystery shoppers" to pose as customers and test out a consumer's experience in their stores.
However, not all offers are legit.
Like anyone else looking to make some extra cash this holiday season, when Rachel Storch got an email about becoming a mystery shopper the stay-at- home mom of four thought “why not?”
The basic concept was that I would be sent on an assignment in my neighborhood to a place like Duane Reade, 7-11, sort of local retail places that I would be given funds to pay for any cost incurred during the assignment as well as 300 dollars in compensation for my time for each assignment that I completed,” said Rachel.
A few days later, Storch received a letter of agreement, a set of instructions, and a check for close to three thousand dollars for her first assignment- the U.S. Postal Service.
“I could go to any branch of the local post office and what they wanted me to do after depositing the check in my own bank account would be to wait one day pick a local branch go and take out 5 money orders in the denomination of 520 dollars each, but to make sure no one’s name was listed in the make payable to -- it should be blank. Then, they gave me an address to send the money orders to,” she said.
The address was to a person in Rome, New York, and not the original sender, which raised some flags.
Sure enough, when I called the Attorney General’s office, they stopped me before I even finished two sentences, and the woman on the other end of the line said ‘you didn’t deposit the check did you?’ 12:43
Good thing she didn't. It turns out the check was phony, which means Storch would have been on the hook for three thousand dollars.
Walter Brewster the senior VP of operations at the Better Business Bureau of New York said, “You don’t want to take money from someone or a check from someone no matter how legitimate it looks. It may look like a certified check, and it may in fact be a real check that’s basically stolen from someone. But that doesn’t mean there’s money behind it, or that it’s a legitimate check.”