How to Handle a Mystery Shopping Scam Check

bank-checkIf you have gotten one of those checks for thousands of dollars from someone representing themselves as a mystery shopping company, you are about to be scammed. Unless, of course, you follow the advice in this article.

Mystery shopping companies do not send checks for thousands of dollars to potential mystery shoppers. Ever. They do not ask you to wire money. Ever. I have written about mystery shopper scams many times, but even some of the people who read those articles will want to believe that their situation is the exception, and they are going to get paid $400 for a couple of hours of work. Not gonna happen. Ever.

Before you cash the check and wire the money off to the scammer, humor me for a minute. Do a couple of things to check them out. If I’m wrong and the “offer” if legitimate, you can post a comment and say I was wrong. But if I’m right, you will save yourself thousands of dollars, lots of aggravation, and possibly some jail time. (Cashing a forged check is a crime, and you may have to convince the police that you are the victim to get out of trouble.)

Here’s what to do…

Call the company listed on the check and see if they sent it to you. Do not rely on a phone number on the check or in the package you received. Go look them up online and find contact information for them. Sometimes the check has the name of a legitimate mystery shopping company on it, although they did not send the check. But I have seen some drawn on accounts for auto parts stores and other businesses. Why would an auto parts store be paying you to mystery shop WalMart and Western Union?

Anytime a scam involves a cashier’s check, official check, or money order from a bank, and you believe that it could be counterfeit, you should contact the issuing bank directly to verify authenticity. As with the company that supposedly issued the check, when contacting the bank, do not use the telephone number provided on the check, as this number is probably not associated with the bank, but rather with the scam artist.

To locate a bank’s mailing address, you can check the FDIC’s Web site at:

So now you have learned that the check is a fake. What should you do next? Resist any impulse to call the person behind the mystery shopper scam. One option is to shred the check and throw it in the trash. Another is to contact the authorities. In addition to notifying the bank named on the check, there are others whom you also should notify if you receive a counterfeit item. They include:

  • For all scams: Federal Trade Commission (FTC): by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP or file an electronic complaint via their Internet site at
  • For Internet-based scams: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Fraud Complaint Center:
  • For mail-based scams: U.S. Postal Inspector Service: by telephone at 1-888-877-7644, by mail at U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Office of Inspector General, Operations Support Group, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60606-6100 or online at

If I was wrong about your check, post a comment and let me know. You can even taunt me. But if I was right…well, I won’t even say, “I told you so.”


  1. Mr. W .Washington says:

    i recieve a chech from trust group. Investing In 1111 Marcus Avenue, SuiteMz 200 lake Sucess Ny 11042 tel , 1855-7423762 ext 203 fax 1302 – 371 -0000 Vice President Finance w. hunter . my assignmjent was walmart , after that sears, and t-j max or kmart, i listen to the coordinator and then i recieve a check for 1165;25 dollar i was so please the coodinator explain the mystery you do the more you make,. on the evalution paper and the survey questionnaire sheet i gave them my information like i did online and fax . deposit the check and it came back into my account,. OMG i got on the phone and try to call the company no answer,. but recieve the fax,. why they do this i am honlest work hard for my money ,. I don’t what to do? now i have to explain everything the bank. i am shame i work and went all the stores . dam them .

    • I’m sorry this happened to you. Why do they do it? Because they are scammers, liars and thieves. And they do not want to be honest and work hard for their money.

      The best way to protect yourself is not to take anything you receive in an unsolicited email as truth. Check these “opportunities” out before participating.

  2. I do Mystery Shopping / Secret shopping. Ive been doing it for over 6 yrs. Today, I opened a priority mail envelope and saw a check for $2240.00. I was shocked. I never got paid in advance for any job I have every done. The remitter 1101 Victoria St. Brandon, FL. 33510. The instructions basically said, Deposit today, take the money out tomorrow and go do a mystery shop at stores (listed) Money Pak cards. ( Prepaid Credit Cards). Then scan the cards, scratch off the pin and email the results to Paul Wood – . Well, I knew better but went to my bank first. The Bank the Check was written on was Old Florida National Bank. My personal banker attempted to call the bank to see if the funds were available. The number she called said they couldnt do that. The number on the letter was a text number 480-630-1511. I told my personal banker that I was not about to deposit the check because my fear was they would have access to MY personal bank account, as well. I will be calling the Post Master General & the FTC. Please pass this recent scam along, with the peoples names involved.

    • Jennie, thanks for sharing your experience. More and more of these scams are using the prepaid cards instead of wire transfers. I will be posting an article about it soon.

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