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February 04, 2022

Mystery shopping scam still alive and spreading

With so many Canadians looking for work, it's not surprising scam artists are targeting people desperate to earn money through part-time work, such as mystery shopping.

The pitch starts out sounding legitimate, particularly to someone who's already struggling and may not be thinking that straight.

You answer an email or Kijiji post looking for part-time work. The scammer tells you that they're looking for mystery shoppers who can shop on their own time and earn a fee at the same time.

To get the ball rolling, the company will send you a cheque for as much as $4,000 to buy the items you need to purchase to appropriately rate the retail outlet, most likely a bank or payday loan service. 

The con artist's excuse for sending so much money is that they want you to take your fee out of the cheque. They then want you to wire the balance back to them so they can monitor things from their end.

They even suggest you wait until the cheque clears to send them the money. That gives unsure buyers the mistaken impression that by waiting a few days they'll be in the clear.

Except that's not the way things work.

If the cheque is bogus (and it will be), you're going to be on the hook for the money, even if the scam takes weeks at unfold. Which is what happened to one unsuspecting Ottawa woman who now owes the Royal Bank of Canada $3,975. 

To view another variation of this scam, click here.

Have you had a similar experience? Did you bite? How did things work out? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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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...