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Beware of Fake Check Scams in the Mail
Double Check that Check!
A Parma resident received an unsolicited letter in the mail, along with a check in the amount of $3,350 asking her to “mystery shop” two separate Western Union outlets. Had the consumer deposited the check and wired the money, as the letter instructed, she would have learned that her bank discovered the check to be a fake. With the money gone, the consumer would have been responsible for repaying the bank thousands of dollars and any fees that accrued.
Mystery shopping scams (sometimes referred to as secret shopping) is where the consumer receives fraudulent solicitations by mail, text or e-mail asking them to report on their experience with a business. To appear legitimate, the scam artists use familiar companies, logos, banks or government agencies on letters or checks.
Tips to Recognize and Avoid Fake Check Scams:
- Never deposit checks from strangers. Especially, if you are asked to wire money from the check sent to you.
- Never pay an upfront fee to become a mystery shopper. Legitimate business do not charge people to work for them, they pay people to work for them.
- If you are considering becoming a mystery shopper, do your research first. Spend some time online searching for reviews and comments about mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications. Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) for more information at www.mysteryshop.org.
- Don’t deposit it, report it! Report fake check scams to the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.