CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: Mystery shopper scam

Scam letters and fake checks
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 7:00 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2023 at 8:00 AM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A Consumer First Alert about a shopping scam. Appleton police say a scam letter and a fake check were sent to one of its own officers.

“When I walked in and saw a priority envelope sitting in my work mailbox, I’m like, that’s odd,” Police Captain Gary Lewis told us.

Capt. Lewis knows if he’s being targeted with this mystery shopping scam, others likely are, too.

He pointed out, “A big flag on this document: The printing is terrible.”

He knew it was important to warn others and share details of the scam on the Appleton Police Department’s Facebook page.

“Education is key to trying to solve this problem,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely not one where we’re going to be able to do investigations and hold individuals accountable for trying to deceive people. There’s too many layers in there to try to identify these people. The best way to stop them from benefit was just not engaging in the process.”

Capt. Lewis told us this is a classic mystery shopping scam. The letter makes it sound like you’ll get quick, easy money for shopping and evaluating a store.

Often it will ask the victim to buy gift cards and give the scammers the numbers on those cards. They’ll tell you to use the check to cover the costs and keep the money left over as payment.

But that check is worthless.

This is a classic scammer move, and you’ll end up losing money. Victims are out the cost of the gift cards, and funds from the gift cards are already drained.

“Best advice, share it with your friends. Show it’s not real. Call your local law enforcement agency if you want it verified, and then shred it and be done with it,” Capt. Lewis advised.

You can learn more about mystery shopper scams and variations of these scams from the Federal Trade Commission website.