Another Bad Mystery Shopper Score
The Mystery Shopper scam is so popular that I have no problem covering it over and over again. Today’s fraudster tries to take me for a ride using the classic four pronged attack:
1. Scammer Baits a Victim
On a mailbox that does not exist, I received the following spam:
From: SSN 2013 [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 8:03 AM Subject: Ms-Network Info Congratulations We are accepting applications for qualified individuals to become a Mystery of Shopper. Please reply this email with the following information below to sign up : *~ Full Name : *~ Address (No P.O Box) : *~ City : *~ Zip : *~ Your Country : *~ Your phone / Land phone : You will receive a flat amount of $ 200 per assignment. Full job description will be sent to you prior in your assignment. You will have access to training materials after you register. It's very exciting and hopefully will be successful. There is no fee to become a shopper
2. Scammer Verifies the Victim’s Details
I replied with the information that was requested. The scammer did not respond or bother to verify my details. Perhaps this scammer is running at such a large scale that he does not have to, for a response alone is enough verification.
3. Scammer Gains the Victim’s Trust
A few days later I received a USPS Priority Mail.
- 1 x check for $1980. He is “paying” me for services that have yet to be rendered, this is how he tries to gain my trust
- 1 x set of instructions. This includes details on the task I have been assigned in addition to the next mystery shopper that I am supposed to wire money to (the scam)
At this point I am supposed to rush off to the bank and send my own money to the scammer. Once my money has been sent off and after the check from above does not clear, I will have been the victim of wire fraud.
Overall this is not a very good scammer. I can’t help but get the feeling that he is either operating at a very large scale or a very small scale. Both of which would force him to minimize on expenses.
I rate this scammer a 2/10
- 1 point for a basic Mystery Shopper Scam
- 1 point for instructing me to wire money to the next Mystery Shopper
- 1 point for being strictly about business! (see Fraudster Chit-Chat below)
- -1 point because the next Mystery Shopper is in the USA (?)
Problems with the scam that impact this fraudster’s score:
- He did not verify my details. I think a phone call to at least check who is on the other side would have been nice, but perhaps he can’t afford it.
- The instructions sent were not of premium quality. There is no company logo and the email address provided as a point of contact is sure to set off alarm bells (email@example.com).
- Too many people involved: the original email received was from firstname.lastname@example.org. The USPS Mail was from Jeffrey M Eastman. The check received was from George L Shashoua and Marilyn Shashoua. The instructions were from Markus Prescott, it has me wiring money to Mark Roberts
So that’s six people involved in this transaction. If the scammer wants a higher conversion rate, it would be within his interest to have fewer people involved.
Now one might say that there are so many people involved because it’s a money laundering scam. In this case the check I received is real and the next victim in the scam is Mark Roberts in Chicago. This is entirely possible. Someone somewhere has been robbed and our scammer is using the Mystery Shopper scam to filter money through the bank accounts of innocent victims (aka money mules).
The interesting thing about money laundering through money mules is that the scammer is the one that has to do the trusting. Instead of withdrawing the amount allocated to me the mule for my services as a Mystery Shopper, I could just cash the check 100% and then do nothing.
There’s enough money being stolen online that I would not be surprised to hear of people making a living doing exactly that.
On the chance that this may be a money laundering scam, I thought I would have some fun with this fraudster. So I decided to email him (using the contact address posted to me) and let him know that I was having some problems. Enter Jayster the pot-smoking hippie:
To: sssshopperwilson <email@example.com> Sent: Thu, Feb 14, 2013 5:59 am Subject: Secret Shopper Check Received! Got your check. Thanks bro! Took my ride to the shop and added new rims, 22’s lookin real mean and shiny! Oh yeah my old lady was bitchin about child payments so I had to take care of that too, it’s the law. So I am $1200 shy of the $1730 I owe you. Okay if I make it up next time? Jayster
Yet another name enters the picture as the fraudster promptly replies
From: Markus Wilson [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 7:28 AM To: Subject: Re: Secret Shopper Check Received! Follow the instruction and get Assignment done! Markus Wilson
+1 point to the fraudster for being strictly about business. He stopped responding when I tried to get him to acknowledge that I had spent most of the money, and now “owed” him even less..
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 3:00 PM To: 'Markus Wilson' Subject: RE: Secret Shopper Check Received! Cool bro. We’re kicking it on the 22s, smoking a bud or two by the beach. Assignment done by weekend then I send you $250 cuz I already spent a little extra again ;) K bro?« Orbitz TyposquatterBargain Hunters, Amazon Payments and Cars.com »