DALLAS--()--With summer fast approaching, many students across the country are beginning their search for temporary employment. One option that often attracts students and stay-at-home parents looking for an easy summer paycheck are advertisements looking for “mystery shoppers.” They promise a fun way to earn cash quickly.
“After they’ve sent the money, they discover the original check was fraudulent, and they’ve lost the money they wired to a scammer”
“Not so fast,” warns Kim Garner, senior vice president of global security and investigations for MoneyGram (NYSE: MGI), a leading global money transfer company. “With the promise of fast money, it’s no mystery why a consumer might be lured into a fraudulent mystery shopper scheme, but that easy money could turn into a difficult financial lesson.”
Garner explained that a fraudulent mystery shopper scheme typically begins when a consumer responds to an ad or email, and is asked to cash a check for hundreds of dollars, using a minor portion to purchase goods at a retailer and evaluate the experience in exchange for payment from a portion of the remaining funds. The individual is then asked to return the remainder of the funds – typically many hundreds of dollars – to the “employer” through a money transfer service. “After they’ve sent the money, they discover the original check was fraudulent, and they’ve lost the money they wired to a scammer,” said Garner.
Garner points out that there are legitimate opportunities for employment as mystery shoppers, but it’s up to the consumer to evaluate these types of offers. She offers the following advice to consumers on the hunt for summer jobs:
- Read the Fine Print: Before applying for any new job, read the entire job description, and look for any hints – such as lack of a physical address or phone number – that the job may not be with a reputable employer.
- Verify Before You Apply: Search the internet for references and feedback about the company. The Better Business Bureau also keeps public records of any complaints that have been filed about a company.
- Money Isn’t Earned Overnight: Work-at-home jobs are like any other business, and generating income takes time. If a work-at-home job opportunity promises a hefty paycheck quickly, proceed with caution.
- Don’t Give to Receive: A work-at-home job that requires applicants to pay for training materials or certification is a common sign of a potential scam. Ignore any job offers that require an applicant to send money to an employer up-front.
- Never Wire as a Hire: A legitimate mystery shopper job never requires an employee to cash a check and return a portion of the funds through a money transfer service. “Never wire money to anyone you don’t know,” advises MoneyGram’s Garner.
As part of MoneyGram’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from wire transfer fraud, the company launched an educational website – www.moneygram-preventfraud.com – that provides tips and tools for identifying and preventing fraud. Before initiating a money transfer, MoneyGram recommends that consumers should:
- Know – Always know the person to whom you are sending money. Never send money to strangers.
- Show – Never show or share information about your money transfer to anyone but the recipient.
- Throw – Discard or throw away any offers that promise easy ways to earn money, especially if the offers require you to send money before earning money.
Consumers who suspect fraud associated with money transfers should contact their local law enforcement. Consumers should call 1-800-MONEYGRAM (800-666-3947) if they believe MoneyGram was used to wire money as a result of a scam.
About MoneyGram International
MoneyGram International, a leading money transfer company, enables consumers who are not fully served by traditional financial institutions to meet their financial needs. MoneyGram offers bill payment services in the United States and Canada and money transfer services worldwide through a global network of more than 275,000 agent locations – including retailers, international post offices and financial institutions – in 194 countries and territories. To learn more about money transfer or bill payment at an agent location or online, please visit http://www.moneygram.com or connect with us on Facebook.