In the last few days, I have been contacted by two mystery shoppers who let me know they received mystery shopper scam emails that claimed to be from the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Both were obvious scams, but the scam might not be as obvious to someone unfamiliar with mystery shopping.
The use of the MSPA name is clearly an attempt to make the scam look legitimate to people who are not acquainted with secret shopping, or have just a vague awareness of it. Doing a search for Mystery Shopping Providers Association or MSPA would show that MSPA is a legitimate organization. That might cause an unsuspecting person to believe the scam is a real offer.
Here are the things that should tip you off that this is a scam:
The email is badly written, with misspellings, improper capitalization and other errors.
Although the email claims to be from the MSPA, they ask that prospective “shoppers” respond to an AOL address. Most legitimate companies use email addresses at their own domains, not AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.
MSPA is not a mystery shopping company. They are an industry association that the companies that hire shoppers belong to, but MSPA does not hire shoppers.
$300 for a simple assignment is way out of line for shopper pay.
Any time someone asks you to wire money to someone it is a scam. No matter what. Always.
Mystery shopping companies typically do not pay shoppers before the assignment is completed. In rare situations, they may provide a gift card to be used to make a purchase, but most of the time companies do not send money before the shopper has done anything.
The email comes out of nowhere. The person has not applied or authorized the “extensive background checks” the scammer claims to have run on them.
In short, do not trust unsolicited emails offering hundreds of dollars for an hour or two of work. Never wire money to anyone you do not know, for any reason. And remember that people who will steal thousands of dollars from you will lie about who they are. Do not trust that an email comes from the person or organization it says it is from.
I have reproduced the email below. If you get one like this, just delete it and go on with your life. Do not respond to them.
You have been selected for an assignment as a Mystery Shopper through extensive background checks. You will earn $300 being a mystery shopper. Your employment packet will include funds and instructions for every assignment.
It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been cleared to be one of our agents. The Mystery Evaluation Team invites you to run a survey on one prominent company in your area.
Your First Task is to evaluate a Western Union Location closest to you.
About Western Union Money Transfer Service:
Western Union offers one of the easiest ways for families and friends to send money and stay connected almost anywhere in the world. It all comes down to the relationships we’ve established over many years. We take pride in being close to our consumers. Together with our Agents, we speak our consumers’ languages and live in our consumers’ neighborhoods.
And we share our consumers’ cultures.
As a result, our Agents and employees are more like ambassadors. They are ambassadors of trust, ambassadors of responsibility and ambassadors of hope. They are the living, breathing manifestation of who we are as a company and everything we stand for:
Integrity. Partnership. Opportunity. Passion. Teamwork.
About Your First Evaluation:
Our client: Concorde International, LLC. www.concordeintl.com
The management and staff of Concorde International has reported some lapses in the services of the Western union locations in some locations around the AMERICAN CONTINENT, Canada and Europe. Their complains were based on reports which their customers forwarded anonymously and Phone calls which were also made to the head office. The Western union locations were reported for evaluation for the following reasons:
(i) Slow services
(ii) Unbalanced exchange rate
(iii) Poor services
(iv) Rudeness to customers
(v) Excess charge
ASSIGNMENT PACKET :
Before any assignment you would be with the resources needed which we would mailed to you via ups or usps courier service containing either a check/money order which you are required to cash at your bank after which you would remove your survey fee of $300 and proceed with the assignment with the remainder funds which you would be instructed to carry out. Then we would be providing you details via email with your first assignment instructions, but you follow every single information given to you as a secret shopper.
Note that your activities as a secret shopper should be kept “confidential”, no third party should be involved.
Please re-confirm your details
Address: (Not.P.O. Box):
Valid Phone Number(s):
Alternative email address (if any):
Email the above details to our evaluations department: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will await your prompt response.
Best Wishes and Regards.
HEAD OF RECRUITMENT