Live 5 Scambusters: Avoiding a secret shopper scam

VIDEO: Live 5 Scambusters: Avoiding a secret shopper scam

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - As holiday shopping season ramps up and people look for extra spending money, secret shopper scams are starting to pick up.

Scam artists use the secret shopper scam to take money from their victims. Melissa Crim of Ladson became a target of these scammers after filling out a survey online.

"One of the questions was, 'Would you like to be a secret shopper or mystery shopper?'" Crim said. "I thought, yeah I'd love to do that."

Here’s how the secret shopper scam works. Typically an unsuspecting victim would receive a check and instructions on how to spend the money. In Crim’s case, she received a check for $2,337 dollars to deposit in her bank. The instructions told her to keep a portion of the money as her benefit for the secret shopper assignment. Crim was then instructed to take $2,000 and buy four Reloadit packs for $500 each.

"They wanted me to buy them, send them all the numbers for it, and send them the actual cards as well," Crim said.

Once that money is sent to a scammer, it’s unlikely the victim will ever get any money back. Victims are also in danger of overdrawing their bank account if they are able to deposit the check. It may take banks days or weeks before confirming the checks are fraudulent. At that point, the banks will remove the money from the account.

“Essentially I would have gotten about $200 or so, but in reality I would have overdrawn my account by $2,200 or so,” Crim said.

If you do receive a fraudulent check, report it to local law enforcement. You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission and South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.

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