Secret shopper scam dupes thousands - CBS46 News

Secret shopper scam dupes thousands

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It seemed like an easy way to make a little money working at home. But instead, it was a scam that is now luring in thousands of victims.

"It basically works by distributing counterfeit checks through the mail to individuals in the U.S.," said postal inspector Matt Schmidt.

It begins with a simple email looking for an "account manager" who wants to work from home.

Once recipients indicate they're interested, the scheme is put in motion by a middleman, or in this case -- middle woman.

"She would receive large amounts of counterfeit checks in the mail. She would then re-package the checks and envelopes and mail those to people that she was directed to mail them to," Schmidt said.

The bad checks are sent with secret shopper letters. Recipients are asked to cash the checks, buy an item, fill out a survey, and return any money they haven't spent.

Days later, the victims find out the checks they deposited were counterfeit and they're now responsible for the items they bought.

In this case, postal inspectors tracked down the so-called "account manager," They searched her home and found at least 1,000 letters ready to mail. Combined, the envelopes contained approximately $450,000 in counterfeit checks.

Inspectors say this scam is on the rise because so many people are looking for additional income. To make sure you're not getting involved in illegal activity, thoroughly research the company trying to hire you.

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