BBB: Memphis company’s name being used in mystery shopping scam | Business
(WMC-TV) – The Better Business Bureau says for the second time in recent months, a Memphis company’s name is being used by scam artists.
The BBB previously said conmen were fraudulently using the name of Axiom Research LLC in their scams. Now the group says crooks have started using another local company’s name, Summerfield Associates, Inc., to target their victims.
“This is the second case we’ve seen recently in which the nature of the company’s business makes the ploy even more believable,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB president. “Summerfield Associates does recruit and place personnel, so it’s not that much of a stretch to believe that they might be looking for mystery shoppers.”
Here’s how the scam works according to the BBB:
The solicitation follows the typical mystery shopping scam protocol. The recipients are instructed to deposit the checks, withdraw the required amount to complete the secret shopping of a Western Union location, and report on the service they received. At least some of the recipients of the fake checks responded to an unsolicited email inviting them to participate in a business evaluation survey. Once they responded to the email, a fraudulent check bearing Summerfield Associates’ name was sent via mail.
“People from across the country are contacting us about checks they’ve received,” Dotty Summerfield Giusti, president of Summerfield Associates. “We are not hiring mystery shoppers and want to let the public know that the checks they are receiving are fake.”
Here are some BBB tips to avoid being a victim and advice on what to do if you think you’ve already been scammed:
Be wary of any mystery shopping offer that:
- Sends you an unsolicited check
- Asks you to wire money back to the business or to an individual
- Is postmarked from another country, especially Canada
- Requires a fee
Be cautious of opportunities that offer large sums of money for simple tasks like cashing a check or wiring money. Mystery shopping will not make you rich; at best, it will provide part-time income.
Look for reputable mystery shopping firms that:
- Qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations.
- Enjoy a good reputation with their clients and shoppers.
- Do not charge a fee to complete an application.
Avoid falling for claims that guarantee a position, without training.
Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website:
- Lists of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities
- Contact the companies for more information on how to become a shopper
Check out any unsolicited offer with your BBB at 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you believe you have been the victim of a mystery shopping scam, you are advised to:
- Contact your local BBB at 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754 via email at email@example.com
- Contact your state’s Attorney General – in TN call 901-545-5900 or go to www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
- File a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov
- If your offer came through the mail, contact the U.S. Postal Inspector at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MailFraudComplaint.aspx
- If you sent money to Canada, contact the Canadian Fraud Centre at 888-495-8501, 888-654-9426 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.