Beware secret shopper type check scam

HOUSTON In one day we heard from two different people on opposite sides of town who got a job offer along with a huge check in the mail. In both cases the check was not real.

In her effort to earn extra income, Denise from Rosharon turned to the want ads. An offer for a customer service representative sounded good, so she called the toll free number.

She recalled, "They were needing people and it was for mystery shoppers. I am always in the store so that was fine with me -- easy money."

Days later a letter from Canada arrived with a secret shopping assignment and a cashier's check for $2,999.

Denise said "I got excited and I thought, 'Wow!'"

The job from Secret Research, Inc. required Denise to deposit the money into her bank account, then take $2,500 in cash to a Wal-Mart and send it back to someone in Canada by MoneyGram. Denise was to rate the service and for her trouble she could keep $300.

"I saw on the survey paper that said to take good details on how they acted," Denise said.

The letter and the check that came with it looked a lot like the letter and check sent to Gene Weinert.

"That'd be a pretty good deal," he said. "That'd be a pretty good deal if it was real."

Like Denise, Weinert was to deposit a cashier's check into his bank account and then withdraw $1,400. The job required Weinert to send the $1,400 by MoneyGram to a person in Canada and he could keep the rest. Weinert was also to rate the MoneyGram employees.

He recalled, "There's four different addresses associated with this -- the address for the company, the address of the bank, the address where you send the money to and the postmark is from Canada."

Weinert and Denise both realized the checks were fake before they deposited them, but Denise's friend, who answered the same ad Denise saw was not so lucky.

"They took that money and money she had in her account, and she was out almost $8,000," Denise explained.

The newspaper ad for the job offer has been pulled by the newspaper publisher, but the warning remains -- if you get a check in the mail with a job offer to rate MoneyGram or Western Union, it is a fake.

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