Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mystery Shopper Scam: Salem Women Lost $2,500

Latest Scam that uses Western Union to Cheat People
The Salem police put out another warning this week about a mystery shopper scam that's made its way around the state in a few iterations a few times over now.

As with many of the e-mail lottery,, snail-mail sweepstakes or granny scams, this one asks folks to cash a check and then send some part of the amount to someone via Western Union.

Salem Police Lieutenant Steve Birr summed it up best:

"I don't know how many ways we can say it," he said "If something involves Western Union and doesn't involve someone you know, it's a scam. No business asks you to wire money."

In the most recent case of the mystery shopper scam, Birr said that about a half dozen Salem residents were queried by email about whether they were interested in the job that -- that when it's legit sends them into restaurants and stores to check for quality of service. Unfortunately, he said, one consumer bit.

The woman agreed to the job and was mailed a check for $2,770, which she had been instructed to cash and then forward $2,595 through a Western Union money order. She followed the instructions and the money order was picked up within minutes -- unfortunately, the check was a forgery and bounced.

The bank took the money out of her account and won't agree to refund her money because it was a scam.

"The bank was basically saying, 'You should have known better,'" said Birr, adding that it seems banks have lost their patience with consumers who fall for such scams.

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