An email turned up in my spam mailbox this morning. The subject was MYSTERY SHOPPER!! and it came from someone claiming to be in the UK. Lots of things did not seem right about this email.
In addition to an abundance of grammatical errors, there are several other clues that should get your spidey-senses tingling. First, let’s take a look at the email itself then I will tell you some of the other clues that should alert you to a possible scam.
This is the actual, unedited text of the email:
We are a company that conducts surveys and evaluate other companies. We get hired to go to other peoples companies and act like customers in order to know how the staffs are handling their services in relation to their customers.Once we have a contract to do so, you would be directed to the company or outlet, and you would be given the funds you need to do the job(either purchase products or required services), after which you would write a comment on the staffs activities and give a detailed record of your experience
Examples of details you would forward to us are
1) How long it took you to get the services requested.
2) Smartness of the attendant
3)Customer service professionalism
4)Sometimes you might be required to upset the attendant, to see how they react to clients why they get tensed.
And we turn the information over to the company executives and they would carry out their own duties in improving their services.
Most companies employ our assistance when people give complains about their services, or when they feel there are needs for them to improve their customer service. your Identity would be kept confidential as the job states (secret/mystery shopper) you would be paid $200 for every duty you carry out, and bonus on your transportation allowance, and funds would be given to you if you have to dine as part of the duty Your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide variety of shops, stores, restaurant and services in your area.
No commitment is made on this job, and you would have flexible hours as it suits
you. If you are interested, do send in these information:
CONTACT ADDRESS:(NO P O BOX)
So we can look at your distance from the locations which you have to put your service into, and your address would also be need for your payments.
[Contact information omitted.]
Let’s say that you were able to get past the absolutely horrible grammar and syntax. What else might provide clues that this is not legitimate?
First of all, why are they contacting me? There is no indication as to where they got my name or email address. Most mystery shopping companies do not contact people at random to offer them secret shopper jobs.
If you are contacted by a mystery shopping company with which you have not registered, it will usually be because of an existing relationship with another organization. For example, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association allows member companies to make limited contact with Silver and Gold Certified Mystery Shoppers when they have a need for shoppers in specific areas. Archon Development, the company behind the Prophet mystery shopping system, will allow you to complete a profile that they share with companies using Prophet. Those companies may contact you for additional information.
They say that they pay you before you have done the mystery shop. Most companies do not front funds for shop purchases and do not pay you your fee before you have done the work. This sounds like they may be running the cashiers check scam.
“Sometimes you might be required to upset the attendant, to see how they react to clients why they get tensed.” This is a common myth about mystery shopping, that mystery shoppers are the difficult customers, there to test how employees handle a stressful situation. Although this may happen on some shops, it is extremely rare. Most of the time, we are expected to be typical customers. We are to blend in with other customers, not be memorable by making a scene or “upsetting” the employees.
They pay $200 for each assignment. Not only is that way out of line for most mystery shopping assignments, pay normally varies based on what you are required to do on the mystery shop. But $200 for a typical shop? Yeah, right.
I have removed the contact information before posting this, but the company and web site listed are for a British textile company. I don’t know about you, but I seldom receive mystery shopper jobs from textile companies. Also, the name of the person the email is supposedly from does not match the email address. And that email address? It is from a free email service, not the domain of the company they claim to represent. All of these are warning signs.
Need more? By expanding the email header I see that the email came from a mail server in Indonesia. The server identifier is mail.XXXXXX.co.id. (The Xs are in place of the actual server name.) the id at the end stands for Indonesia. Although this information can be forged, it is unlikely that a British textile company doing mystery shopping forged their IP information to appear to be Indonesian. More likely, the scammers are operating out of Indonesia and didn’t bother to forge the headers.
You can avoid being the victim of a scam by asking a few questions and using your critical thinking skills. When you receive emails such as this one, just delete them. Do not click on links in the email (that can expose you to malware and other dangerous things being loaded on your computer) and do not respond. Just click the delete key.
Some scammers make their communications look more legitimate, but even poor jobs such as this one apparently succeed in procuring victims. Do not be one of them.