Media Advisory - RCMP and CBSA Warn Public of "Mystery/Secret Shopper" Scheme

TORONTO, Jan. 20, 2016 /CNW/ - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Financial Crime Section and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are warning the public of a Mystery/Secret Shopper scheme.

Courier packages were intercepted originating from the United States containing fraudulent cheques addressed to individuals who had answered job ads to become mystery/secret shoppers. These type of schemes are advertised on the internet through job ads found on websites, such as Craigslist or Kijiji.

The victim responding to the ad is required to provide their personal contact and employment information to apply for a job as a secret shopper. Once the victim is approved as a secret shopper, they receive correspondence indicating that a cheque and instructions have been sent by courier. The courier package sent to the victim originates from the State of Iowa. The victim is asked to cash the cheque and use a money transfer company to wire a portion of the funds to a specific person or place. When the victim later finds out the cheque is counterfeit, he or she is on the hook for the money wired. In these cases, the cheques provided were fraudulently purported to be issued from a bank account belonging to the University of Windsor.

The RCMP offers the following tips to help the public avoid these types of fraudulent mystery/secret shopper schemes:

  • There are legitimate mystery/secret shopper programs available. Research the legitimacy on companies hiring mystery shoppers. Legitimate companies will not charge an application fee and will accept applications on-line through legitimate company websites;
  • No legitimate mystery/secret shopper program will send payment in advance and ask the employee to send a portion of it back;
  • Always scrutinize the e-mail address and telephone number of the person you are corresponding with to ensure that they accord with a legitimate company;
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information; 
  • Report suspected fraud. If you suspect a mystery/secret shopper scheme, report it to the appropriate authorities.

If you believe you are a victim of a mystery/secret shopper scheme, please report it to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (www.antifraudcentre.ca or 1-888-495-8501).

SOURCE Royal Canadian Mounted Police

For further information: Media contact: Sgt. Penny Hermann, Media Relations, RCMP "O" Division (Ontario), 416-992-4409, Twitter: @RCMPONT, Facebook: www.facebook.com/rcmp.ontario, YouTube: RCMPGRCPOLICE, Website: RCMP in Ontario

RELATED LINKS
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/

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