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  • Writer's pictureD.J. Bibb

SECRET shopper

A consumer in Glendora, California, received a check from a title company in Texas in the amount of $2,850.25 via overnight delivery, along with this enclosed letter encouraging him to become a “secret shopper:”

Carefully Read the Evaluation Instruction Below

Attn: Independent Feedback Agent

It is that time of the year and this is a follow up on the Sponsored Survey you indicated interest by filling a form through text message on your phone. This Memo is to guide you on your outing.

The first thing you should do soon as you receive this Memo is: SEND A TEXT MESSAGE to your Personal/Batch Supervisory, JOHN FULLER on (502) 531-3548 confirming you received this envelope fine and all content intact. IF you are yet to report, kindly get the number from this Memo and send a text confirming you received this Memo, so you are guided by him.

Kindly report to him that the Memo arrived safe and you found the Money (Cashier’s Check) to carry out the survey intact in the envelope. Kindly proceed to make deposit of the check at your Bank Branch upon receipt of your package (Immediate funds availability with processing fee applies).

The Check must be deposited with your Bank. DO NOT cash check from cashing stores, make sure it is at your Bank you deposit the Check since we have a trace and will make sure the right person processes the payment then TEXT JOHN FULLER AFTER THE DEPOSIT HAS BEEN MADE FOR FUNDS AVAILABILITY TIME, SO HE CAN RECORD.

The funds will be available a few hours or the next business day. Soon as the cash is made available by your Bank Branch, you will withdraw the cash and take CASH ONLY/YOUR CARD with you to the nearest WALMART STORE AND PURCHASE APPLE GIFT CARD or Walmart Visa Card with the rest $2,000. Deduct your commission which is $700 and extra $50 to cover cost of gas/transportation.

PLEASE NOTE here that we have received several anonymous reports of Staff Misconduct; Turning Back Customers; Unnecessary Restrictions; Over-Charging and Lapses at several of the Walmart in and around your ZIP-Code and this is where you com in, kindly maintain absolute calm and evaluate the Point of Purchase, taking into consideration the following:

» How long it took you to get served. » Customer service. » Reactions when under pressure. » Your personal comment, impression and suggestions.

We are counting on you and we expect a detailed report. Kindly take note of the above details as they will be the result you e-mail to us confirming you carried out your Evaluation.

After purchasing the Apple Gift card or Walmart Visa Card and you have taken note of the above listed details, Kindly send a TEXT/SMS to your supervisor on (502) 531-3548 confirming the purchase of the Walmart Visa Card and send picture to them to (502) 531-3548.

Oh brother! There are so many red flags within this letter. In addition to the spelling and punctuation errors, the consumer does not receive a cashier’s check, they receive a counterfeit title company check. The sender claims to have a “trace” on the check that will prevent the consumer from taking it to a check cashing center.

The sender makes false accusations regarding the store the shopper will be evaluating in an effort to keep the consumer from interacting with store staff who would likely recognize this as a scam.

The scam involves the consumer sending a picture of the front and back of the gift cards. When the gift cards are photographed and sent to the fraudster the card numbers are used to purchase merchandise that will later be sold for a profit.

The sad news is many consumers fall for the secret shopper scam every day. The consumers are out the cash they spent to purchase the gift cards. Fortunately for title companies, positive pay prevents the check from actually being cashed at the bank.


In the above story, the consumer was suspicious of the letter and reached out to the title company to confirm the check was counterfeit. If consumers contact your office wanting to verify the check is valid issue, let them know it is counterfeit and if they deposit it, their bank will charge them a counterfeit check processing fee on top of any loss they might incur for sending money to the fraudster. Always monitor positive pay exceptions and reject counterfeit items immediately, even on the day after Thanksgiving. Most businesses are closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving. However, it is still a banking day and positive pay exceptions still have to be rejected that day.

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