Watching out for 'mystery' shoppers

Seven On Your Side
July 21, 2008 4:10:55 PM PDT
It's a part time job that can earn you hundreds for very little work. Just cash a check and wire back some of the money keeping hundreds for yourself. But there's one very expensive catch. Seven on your Side has the tip off to a rip off. "It's a very hard lesson, and a very expensive lesson," said Joanne Stewart.

Joanne Stewart got taken for nearly $3,500.

Joanne was looking for a job online as a mystery shopper.

A company called Global Monitoring and Research responded, sending her a check for $3,800.

The sham company asked her to deposit it and after it cleared , send it back the bulk of the money using Western Union.

Days after Joanne wired the money, Global's check bounced. Her account was left thousands in the negative.

"So that money is out of the country and it's untraceable," adds Stewart.

Seven on your Side was shown a sample of the fake checks U.S. postal inspectors have found. Many have names of legitimate banks,some even have water marks.

"Professional quality made in actual print shops. It's almost impossible for the average bank teller to detect," said Al Weissmann, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

But last year in the Bronx, postal inspectors took down a print shop suspected of making counterfeit checks.

As for Joanne? Seven on your Side called her bank. After we appealed to them, they unfroze her account and put her on a payment plan.

When Eyewitness News contacted the companies whose names were on the checks, they said the checks were forgeries and that they were victims, too. When we called the global 800 number, they claimed the operation was a legitimate test but when Tappy Philliips pressed for more information, they hung up the phone.

Below are more tips that can help you prevent this to happening to you.

To report fake check fraud:

For info on legitimate Mystery Shopping companies:

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips