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May 30, 2021

Watch out for mystery shopper scams

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

A new version of an old scam is currently making the rounds, complete with a Canadian address.

In the original, targets received a letter saying they’ve been selected to become a "mystery shopper" for really good money. Enclosed they found a $3,150 cashier's cheque and instructions to visit a local Wal-Mart and pose as someone buying a MoneyGram to wire $2,825 to a relative in Canada. The cheque amount covered the cost of the MoneyGram, including Wal-Mart's fee, and $250 for their time, which included filling out a survey on the service they’d received.

But those who completed the assignment soon realized they’d been had. Within a few days, the bank where they deposited the cheque notified them that it was fraudulent and that they must pay the missing money back.

And now, although the details are a bit different, the scam is once again making the rounds – and finding new dupes at the same time.

What makes this sort of scam particularly disturbing is how legitimate it appears. The documents are businesslike, and the cashier's cheque often carries the name and address of an actual company. The address and phone number, however, belongs to the scam artists. If would-be shoppers call it to verify the deal, they'll receive assurance of the check's "authenticity."

Couldn’t happen to you? Good. Just in case though, click here see whether there might actually be a cheque fraud in your future.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...