Mystery shopping scam ruins woman’s Christmas

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OKLAHOMA CIT Y - She wanted to make a little extra cash for holiday shopping, but now one woman says a mystery shopping scam will leave her with no money this Christmas.

Mystery shopping pays people to go shopping and then write a review on their experience.

But just because money from those companies shows up in your personal bank account, it doesn't mean it's going to stay there.

"I thought, well I've done this mystery shopping before," Ann Ogorek said. "That's an easy, fun way to make a little extra money."

Plus, the website she was looking at looked legitimate.

It says they're accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

But Ogorek knows now, that's not true.

"I just went 'oh my gosh, that's backfired'," she said Tuesday. "How stupid could you be?"

That website, which has no phone number, sent Ogorek two cashier's checks, totaling more than $3,700.

She could keep $600, but when the money appeared in her bank account, she was instructed to send about $1,500 via Moneygram to another mystery shopper in the Philippines.

Then, she had to purchase three Green Dot Moneypak cards, totaling $1,500, and give those card numbers to the company.

But when those checks eventually bounced, Ann says her bank took all her remaining money to cover the losses.

"No protection, no help, no nothing?" she said of her conversation with her bank. "Well, (they said) 'we really can't do anything about it. These guys are so good.'"

Julie Bays, Public Protection Unit Chief with the Oklahoma Attorney General's office, said most scams include wiring money or those Green Dot cards.

"The two checks that she received come from different credit unions and it's just weird," she said. "If all you have to do is go to Walmart, buy a Green Dot card, and make $300 or $500 dollars, that's a red flag."

She said banks are not liable for allowing bad checks to post to your account.

Ann says there will be no family gifts this Christmas, but she's hoping to get $1,500 back from Green Dot because she hadn't given the scammers the card numbers.