Secret shopper scam could cost you thousands of dollars, BBB warns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A scam is circulating around the Mid-South that could cost you thousands of dollars.

It’s called a “secret shopper” scam, and now the Better Business Bureau is warning you to be on the lookout.

Scammers are constantly coming up with new tactics and schemes to seem more believable.

One Mid-South man is using his experience to help others from falling victim.

“I get this email, and it looked very credible,” Joe Fazio of Memphis said. “It said, ‘get paid to become a secret shopper.’”

An offer seeming too good to be true simply showed up in Fazio’s inbox.

“I was between jobs at the time, so the appeal of making a few hundred bucks to pay for groceries was very appealing to me,” he said.

Fazio responded to the email and answered some questions. A few days later, he got another email saying he was selected to become a secret shopper for Kroger.

“About 4 to 5 days later, I get this official priority mail envelope addressed to me, and that’s when the red flags started,” he said.

Inside the envelope was a check for $1,800 and instructions to use the money to buy eBay gift cards from different store locations.

“It says take a picture of the gift card, and please scratch off the label on the back of the gift card to reveal the digit code,” Fazio said.

The catch: the check was fake.

Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South said so far this year, they’ve received 20 reports of fake check scams like these.

“A lot of people don’t realize just because you get the funds from the bank doesn’t mean the check is cleared,” he said. “Sometimes, it can take days for them to realize that, and then the bank goes after you for the money.”

Irwin said no business will send you money without filling out new hire paperwork.

As for Fazio, he hopes what he went through will help protect you.

“If some innocent person needed money or retiree sees that, that’s going to be super attractive for them to want to go out and cash that,” he said.

If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to the police and then to the BBB by clicking here