Mystery secret shopper not what it seems

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Angela Willis has a job but jumped at the chance to earn some extra green during the holidays.

“We have a new granddaughter, being able to help them,” Willis said. “I also have a daughter who is intellectually disabled, and so she is dependent upon us. That $300 is something I could use to help her with wants or needs.”

Willis received an email purporting to be from Walmart.

“It says ‘Congratulations! We are accepting applications from all over the world to become a secret shopper,’” she said.

It claims to be a mystery secret shopper program that pays you to shop at your local Walmart and rate your experience.

Once Willis submitted her name, address and phone number, she got a large counterfeit check express mailed to her, along with her first assignment.

“It said to purchase three $850 money orders from Walmart, to put the check in my bank, send an email saying the check had been deposited,” Willis said.

She was to keep $300 for her salary and send the remaining balance of $2,500 to an address in Chicago. 

“I can't even imagine if I would have deposited that check,” she said. “I could have been held accountable for something and I had no idea.”

Because, you are the one on the hook for checks you deposit, even if they're fake.  

On its website, Walmart warns it will never solicit mystery shoppers via email, mail or any other public means.

The In Your Corner bottom line:

  • Some checks could take weeks to bounce.  
  • Never ever deposit a random check.
  • No one is just going to pay you in advance and ask you to send back money.
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