Beware of secret shopper scams - New York News

Beware of secret shopper scams

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

Any chance to make a little extra money before the holidays is welcome, but sometimes there is a fine line between making money and losing money.

Some retailers hire people to go into a store to check out its customer service. For your trouble you make a small amount of money.  It's when you're offered a lot of money that you should say, "wait a minute."

Shanty Watson received a check for $2,194.00 after signing up online to work for Ace Shoppers.  She thought she'd been hired to secretly shop at local retailers, reporting back about customer service.

"I've been actively looking for the past of months now," said Watson.

She was thrilled, and she had strict instructions.

"She said to deposit that check into my account and once I did that, in 24 hours, it'll be active," said Watson.

Watson's high-paying, new part-time job came tumbling down before she got into trouble.  

"Went to the bank and they said, ‘No ma'am, you won't be able to do that.  It's a fraudulent check,'" said Watson.

Without even talking to her, Fred Elsberry of the Atlanta BBB says he can tell you that next she would have been asked to shop for a few items, then send a large chunk of the money back to her employer.  

"Most of this money we want you to wire back to us by Western Union 'cause we want to see how good their service is. And so you wire that money back," explained Elsberry.

According to the National Consumers League there is a spike in secret shopper scams. Elsberry says this is how it generally works.

"The interesting thing is that these people have stolen the bank account number from the company that's on the check. So, if you go to the bank, they'll tell you that's a legit account for that particular company," said Elsberry.

Had the bank not caught this, Watson would have been responsible for paying back nearly $2,000 to the bank. Furious, she called "Ace Shoppers."

"I said, I'm going to report you to FOX 5 and she hung up! And every time I called she kept hanging up," said Watson.

An I-Team investigation connects Ace Shoppers from the Bronx, NY  to another secret shopper company with the same address: Value Shoppers. According to the New York BBB, they're "scammers (who) defrauded consumers of large amounts of money" through the same scheme.

The National Consumers League says that a legit company will never ask you to do a money transfer.  

"I would tell FOX 5 viewers you make sure you do some thorough investigating when you do an application online for mystery shoppers," said Watson.

For more information on how to become a secret or mystery shopper with a legitimate company, visit the Federal Trade Commission and the National Consumer League.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Dr. Commander cries on witness stand

    Dr. Commander cries on witness stand

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:12 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:12:43 GMT
    The man who claims to have thousands of Hindu followers around the world took the witness stand in his federal money laundering trial and broke down in tears.
    The man who claims to have thousands of Hindu followers around the world took the witness stand in his federal money laundering trial and broke down in tears.
  • Developer: Kenerly never asked for bribe

    Developer: Kenerly never asked for bribe

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 10:18 PM EDT2014-08-21 02:18:28 GMT
    Prosecutors considered him their key witness, a longtime Gwinnett developer given immunity to spill what he knew about corruption inside county government. David Jenkins testified before a Gwinnett grand jury in 2010. He also met multiple times with prosecutors. Those interviews were videotaped. Four years later, prosecutors agreed to a no contest plea bargain with former commissioner Kevin Kenerly on one count of bribery. He will serve 10 years on probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
    Prosecutors considered him their key witness, a longtime Gwinnett developer given immunity to spill what he knew about corruption inside county government. David Jenkins testified before a Gwinnett grand jury in 2010. He also met multiple times with prosecutors. Those interviews were videotaped. Four years later, prosecutors agreed to a no contest plea bargain with former commissioner Kevin Kenerly on one count of bribery. He will serve 10 years on probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
  • Control your debit or credit card by remote control

    Control your debit or credit card by remote control

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:35 AM EDT2014-08-20 12:35:26 GMT
    Oh, that awful feeling when you think your credit or debit card is safely tucked into your wallet, but it's still shopping. Somebody, somewhere has got your card number and is using it. What if you could turn off that card?
    Oh, that awful feeling when you think your credit or debit card is safely tucked into your wallet, but it's still shopping. Somebody, somewhere has got your card number and is using it. What if you could turn off that card?
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • SKYFOX Traffic

    Tips for navigating around Georgia Dome traffic

    Tips for navigating around Georgia Dome traffic

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:16 AM EDT2014-08-21 13:16:27 GMT
    For the next three years, if you plan to be anywhere near the Georgia Dome, expect delays and plan ahead. That's the word from officials as we head into fall, the Dome's busiest time of the year.
    For the next three years, if you plan to be anywhere near the Georgia Dome, expect delays and plan ahead. That's the word from officials as we head into fall, the Dome's busiest time of the year.
  • Good Day Atlanta Extra

    Paula Deen: 'I'm happier, more solid, I'm smarter'

    Paula Deen: 'I'm happier, more solid, I'm smarter'

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 11:14 AM EDT2014-08-20 15:14:12 GMT
    Celebrity chef Paula Deen says she is 'happier and smarter' after a controversial year in the spotlight. Deen joined Good Day's Paul Milliken to candidly discuss the lessons she's learned, and her hopes for the future.
    Celebrity chef Paula Deen says she is 'happier and smarter' after a controversial year in the spotlight. Deen joined Good Day's Paul Milliken to candidly discuss the lessons she's learned, and her hopes for the future.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Garner's family meets U.S. attorney

    Staten Island stores worried about rally

    Staten Island stores worried about rally

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:01 PM EDT2014-08-22 03:01:16 GMT
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
  • Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team auditions

    Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team auditions

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:26 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:26:39 GMT
    Out of over 500 hopefuls only a handful will join the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team. The Nets held auditions this week at LIU Brooklyn. Adorable Bronx native Arielle was turned away last year but this time around she's made it through to the final round of the auditions. But even those who were on the team last year still have to try out.
    Out of over 500 hopefuls only a handful will join the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team. The Nets held auditions this week at LIU Brooklyn. Adorable Bronx native Arielle was turned away last year but this time around she's made it through to the final round of the auditions. But even those who were on the team last year still have to try out.
  • Chris Rock gets foul ball at Yankees game

    Chris Rock gets foul ball at Yankees game

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:03:11 GMT
    Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize -- a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
    Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize -- a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices