Get Garcia: Secret Shopping Can Be a Secret Scam

Some fake "secret shopper" outfits bilk gullible consumers out of thousands of dollars.

Being a secret shopper is a real job, so Nancy Salsgiver was intrigued when she got an envelope in the mail. It contained detailed instructions for her “secret shopping assignment.”

It also contained a check for nearly $2,800.

“The instructions are to deposit this check in your bank,” Salsgiver told the NBC4 I-Team. Salsgiver was to spend $50 at Walgreens or Sears and report on the service and keep $250 for herself as compensation for her work.

Her final task was to wire the remaining $2,200 to her employer via Western Union so she could report on the service she got there.

The only problem is while the individual is shopping the scam is underway.

If you have a tip for the "Get Garcia, Get Results" team, email or call our tip hotline at (818) 520-TIPS.

To fulfill the “shopping assignment” the secret shopper must withdraw his or her own money from their bank account.

It can take five to ten business days to find out the check is no good.

By then you could be out quite a bit of money: the $2200 wired to the scammers plus the money you spent shopping and whatever bank fees you get charged for the bounced check.

“Anytime you get an unsolicited check in the mail, run for the hills,” said Vince Gottuso, president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern California.

NBC4’s “Get Garcia” team conducted our own investigation with Salsgiver’s check and after 5 days, the NBC Credit Union verified that Salsgiver’s check was indeed “not good.”

For more information regarding mystery shopping, contact the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.

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