OKLAHOMA CITY — Steven Childs thought he hit the lottery, but he actually became a victim of a secret shopping scam last May.
Last year, Childs says he received an email about becoming a secret shopper for Rite Aid, Walmart and Walgreens. The email asked him for his background information to see if he was qualified.
When he learned that he was qualified, he thought he hit it big.
The next email he receives was for him to get to work. The company mailed Childs a check for nearly $2,000 to be used for his pay and to buy items at the stores.
However, the catch was that he had to deposit the check into his bank account within 24 hours.
“I didn’t have a bank, so I went to a check cashing place and next thing I know, I got swarmed by cops,” Childs said.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office ended up charging Childs with second-degree forgery for attempting to cash the fake check.
As a result, Childs says he had to spend 11 days in the Oklahoma County Jail.
Childs says he tried to show police the emails of the scam, but it didn’t seem to affect on his case.
Now, he says he fears he may have to plead guilty for someone’s else’s crime.
“Next court date is in February when I`m supposed to take the guilty plea because I don’t have $10,000 to take it to trial,” he said.
Eperts said scam artists are always after one thing.
“The goal with this is usually for the perpetrator to get some money back,” said Patrick Allmond, with Focus Marketing.
Allmond says the crook will usually give you a check for you to deposit, and they’ll ask for some money back. Before the bank realizes the check is fake, you have already given them money from your account.
“When someone wants to transact business with me via a Gmail address, it’s a red flag, and the English is not perfect; it’s a little bit broken indicating to me it might be an offshore company,” Allmond said.
In the email Childs showed News 4, the company didn’t provide a name or a phone number.
“It costs us and times are already hard,” Childs said.
News 4 reached out the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office but have yet to receive a comment on the matter.