Piedmont woman warning others about secret shopper scam

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- A Piedmont woman is warning others not to fall victim to a shopping scam that nearly cleared her account.

Shawn Bobbitt said she’s gotten several letters in the mail since September offering money orders and checks to become a mystery secret shopper.

Last month was a money order for $985.

The letter asks for Bobbitt to immediately deposit the check into her account, using some of the funds to purchase items, some to keep as a payment for the services and then wire the rest to the next secret shopper at the listed address.

The scam mystery shopper letters said there have been complaints about the staff and services of a nearby Walmart and CVS and ask for the shopper to rate their experience purchasing items.

After careful research, Bobbitt found out the money order is fake.

The real company Secret Shopper has issued a scam alert on their website.

“One of the more serious scams involves someone claiming to be with a legitimate company such as Secret Shopper and sending out large counterfeit cashier's checks or money orders. The shopper is told to cash it and wire the majority of the funds via MoneyGram or Western Union, then keep the rest as their 'pay' for the shop. Don't be fooled by these scams! The FDIC requires banks to make funds available on cashier's checks and money orders within 1-5 days, so the scammers are counting on you receiving the funds and going through with the wire transfer before the check or money order has actually cleared the bank. By the time you find out that the check is not legitimate, you are out the money you sent and will be held accountable for the bounced check by your financial institution.”

Secret Shopper reports on their website that they never solicit shoppers through email and text message. The only way to participate in their offers is through their website.

The company encourages victims to file a report with their local police department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Bobbitt said she called the Winston-Salem Police Department and was told to use her best judgement.