A couple of weeks ago I received an email from some company who wanted to if I would be interested in becoming their Secret Shopper?
What they wanted me to do was to shop at various retail establishments, evaluate their service, and then write a report and they would pay me two hundred dollars and also let me keep all the stuff I bought.
Hell of a way to kick start Christmas shopping so, “Hell Yeah.” I forgot about the whole thing until a couple of days later when they contacted me again and asked for an address where they could send a check plus a number they could text me at.
Imagine my surprise when a check for $2500.00 showed up the next day, followed by a text asking me to contact them as soon as I deposited the check in my bank account.
When I got to my bank I decided to deposit it using the ATM because checks always clear faster. (mistake #1)
As soon as I made the deposit, I texted them, and they responded by telling me to check my computer for an email with step by step instructions.
While driving home, small warning bells started going off in my head, hey, who the hell sends $2500 to someone they don’t know? However, when I opened up the email, their instructions were quite detailed and looked very official.
The first thing that they wanted me to do was to pay myself $200.00 and then go to the closest Wal-Mart and spend $50.00 at the closest as soon as possible. Next, they wanted me to go to Western Union and send a MoneyGram for a thousand dollars each to 2 two mystery shoppers. Once these tasks were completed, they then wanted me to compose a short written report about how I was treated at Wal-Mart and Western Union and then email it to them.
This all seemed a little weird but as long as the check cleared in the next day or so, what did I care.
When I asked them how many of these assignments I could expect before Christmas, they said it all depended on how quickly I completed my first two assignments, but I, of course, wasn’t going to do anything until that check cleared.
Still feeling weird about it, I forwarded a copy of their instructions to our CFO Ric Hindes and asked for his advice. Rick said that it sure smelled like a scam, but he couldn’t figure out what they were scamming about.
I then decided to run it by my bank manager, and she said that it had all the signs of a scam and if I had made the deposit inside, they could call the bank the check was written on to see if there were sufficient funds to cover it.
She then explained that by law, they couldn’t hold a check for more than 24 hours, which meant that the funds would be available to me by 5:00 PM the next day. However, she added, if I were you, I wouldn’t use any of the money because it could take up to a week to know if the check was any good, and you’re responsible for any of the funds you used if it bounces.
CLANG ClANG! Ahhh, there it is, that’s why the so-called company wanted me to complete my assignment quickly. Their goal was to get me to wire two checks for a thousand dollars to their worker bees before the week was up, and then they’d disappear.
The next day, the pressure from the scammers really started to come, but I held them off by saying that I wasn’t going to do anything until that check cleared.
The next day I got 105 texts from them, and they were really starting to get nasty. They claimed that mystery shoppers in other cities needed me to complete my assignment before they could do theirs so I told them that I would call the bank the next morning to see if the check had cleared yet.
The next day, they were all over me, so I told them that the check had cleared and I would withdraw the money on my way home from work.
They were going crazy, so I told them that I would leave work early and withdraw the money. The next thing I did was tell them that the bank was closed by the time I got there, and the ATM had a limit on how much it would give me, so I’d have to try again in the morning.
By the next morning, they are going ballistic, and somehow the Wal-Mart assignment has fallen by the wayside, now they just want me to get the money from the bank and head to Western Union.
I tell them that the bank won’t give me the money because there’s something wrong with the check. They call bullshit because, as they said, there’s no way the bank could know anything about the check yet. (they should know)
I bought some time by saying that I would go back into the bank and demand my money, which calmed them for the moment. Instead, I went on the Rich Stevens at WFTL in Fort Lauderdale and warned the folks about the scam.
It was an enjoyable show with many folks calling in to tell us about their own scam stories, and I also think we helped a few people.
The whole time I was on Rich’s show, they were texting me like crazy, and I couldn’t help but think that if these guys worked this hard at something legitimate, they’d probably be very successful.
Once I finished the show, I texted them to say that I was on my way to the bank and they’d hear from me when I got the money.
A half-hour later, I texted them that I was at the bank, but they still wouldn’t give me the money because they still claim that something was wrong with the check, so you need to send me another. When they said that there was no way in hell that they were doing that, I gave them a little hope by telling them that the bank told me to come back the next morning because they may have a way of clearing this all up.
Then the texts started slowing down and I can only guess that they were on to me as I was on to them. Damn, I can still see that money just laying there in my account, but all I get to do instead of spending it is to share this blog about it with two excellent scammers, Wander Thorman and Kevin Pool, along with a text that reads, “You can’t scam a scammer Mo-Fos!
Hey, this just in … Surprise surprise, in 5 days, the check bounced, which cost me 12 dollars, which was well worth the price of admission, not to mention that over 6000 people have already read this blog, and we got a radio show out of it too. However, when I texted the bad news to Wander and Kevin about the check bouncing, they never responded. C’mon guys!