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Secret Shopper Scam Targets Those In Need Of A Job

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Carrie Lovato talks with 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks. (credit: CBS)

Carrie Lovato talks with 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks. (credit: CBS)

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – Carrie Lovato got a check in the mail.

“I was going to go cash it … I really was,” Lovato told CBS4.

The money was payment to be a secret shopper. The envelope carried the Costco logo. Lovato was to cash the check, pose as a customer at a couple of retailers, and wire most of the money through Western Union.

“There was a certain amount, like $1,400, to send back to Western Union. It just didn’t seem right,” Lovato explained.

The scam is that the check is a fake. To the naked eye, it looks legitimate, but the CBS4 camera reveals the word “void” embedded all over it. So once Lovato cashes the check and wires most of it away, it would bounce at the bank and she would be liable for covering the costs. She would be out nearly $2,000.

“I just wanted to warn people not to cash that check,” Lovato said.

Costco Senior Vice President of Operations confirmed to CBS4 that this did not originate with this company.

“It’s not us. I know of other instances where people have used our logo without our authorization. As a matter of fact, we don’t use secret shoppers at all,” Franz Lazarus told CBS4.

The letter included with the check gives the name Jeffery Miller and a phone number for assistance. 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks called the number. Miller told her that he doesn’t do interviews over the phone, only in person, and hung up the phone.

Carrie Lovato is just grateful that she didn’t end up giving this a try, and she wants people to be on the lookout.

“Just be aware that there are predators out there,” she said.

There are companies that hire mystery shoppers. You can get more information on legitimate opportunities from the Mystery Shopper Providers Association. But know that you should never have to wire money as part of a mystery shopping assignment.

–Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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