Nationwide mystery shopper scam targets local businesses

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A nationwide mystery shopper scam is misusing a North Carolina business’ name, according to the BBB of Northwest North Carolina.

“Folks are being contacted by mail with an offer of mystery shopping and they are name dropping to gain confidence,” said David Dalrymple, President of the Northwest BBB.

The letters ask you to be a mystery shopper for Bernhardt Company, BFC Produce and BFC.

Bernhardt is a furniture manufacturer based out of Lenior and does not hire mystery shoppers.

The letters include a check for around $2,000.00 with instructions for you to spend some for shopping and some to send back to them.

“It’s really very simple; they are trying to get you to pass a bad check.  You do it, they get the money and you get left holding the bag.”

The BBB is receiving a flood of complaints and calls about the fraudulent job offer.

“If you are desperate for a job, you better understand there is a scam artist out there ready to take advantage of you,” said Dalrymple. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t get a call from at least one or two people from our community calling us in hopes we can tell them the fake check in their hand is real.”

The BBB offers these tips when considering a mystery shopping opportunity:

  • Ask yourself how someone knows you are the right person for the job when they do not know you at all!
  • Ask why a complete stranger would give you a check for thousands of dollars and trust that you will not rip them off.
  • Exercise extreme caution when considering job offers that involve you receiving advance payment in the form of a check and then being asked to wire or return some portion of it.
  • Be skeptical of any offers that name dropping the names of well-known businesses.
  • Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.