March 6, 2009 Fairmont Police Department

Fairmont Police Department cautions area residents to be cautious of Secret Shopper scams

The Fairmont Police Department is advising area residents to be cautious of “secret / mystery shopper” employment opportunities.

In the last several weeks the Fairmont Police Department began receiving more reports from city residents on one of the latest frauds to get money from unsuspecting residents.  While the details of the scam can vary, this latest financial scam involves scam artists sending documents on becoming a possible secret shopper.  The documents usually include a letter explaining the employment opportunity, a fraudulent business check, and also some type of evaluation form.

The letter details a job opportunity as a mystery or secret shopper.  As part of the duties you are asked to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of different types of stores.  But what each of these scams includes is some type of wire transfer through Western Union or Money Gram.  These letters indicate that this is a weekly job assignment and they ask you to complete it in an expeditious manner.  The scam is successful because they instruct you to complete the wire transfer within the first week and the scam artists know that some of these counterfeit fraudulent checks can take between one to three weeks before they are proven to be counterfeit.  Unfortunately the account holder will then be held accountable for the entire amount of the check.

From our experience with scams whenever you’re asked to wire transfer money it has a very high probability of being a scam.  The problem with wire transfers is that a Money Gram wire transfer can be picked up anywhere in the world, no matter what location the sender writes on the receipt.

Investigation into these types of frauds typically crosses international borders which makes prosecution unlikely and the recovery of any lost funds near impossible.  Area residents are advised that if they receive this type of letter they should not wire transfer money and law enforcement should be contacted.

Detective Corey Klanderud and School Resource Officer Jaime Bleess

Fairmont Police Department;