May 12, 2011

'Mystery shopper' scam claims Portland address

By J. Hemmerdinger
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Translucent Shoppers, a company that claims to be based in Portland, may be running a scam that targets "mystery shoppers" — those who are paid to secretly evaluate a company's products, services or employees — according to the regional Better Business Bureau.

The Marlborough, Mass.-based business group said Translucent Shoppers has been sending fraudulent checks to people, and asking them in a letter to deposit the check in their personal bank account. But before the check clears, victims are instructed to evaluate a wire transfer business by wiring most of the money back to the company.

Within 10 days, however, the original check will bounce.

The Better Business Bureau said the company claims to be based in Portland, but that the address listed on the letter does not exist. Phone numbers on the letter are Canadian.

Paula Fleming, the Better Business Bureau's vice president of communications and marketing, said mystery shopping scams are common.

"Many unscrupulous businesses are promising job hunters employment as a mystery shopper,” she said in a statement. “These fraudulent businesses will send the victim an authentic looking check in the mail, telling them to deposit it into their personal banking account.”

The Better Business Bureau said consumers should be "wary of businesses that send checks and ask for money to be wired back. Also keep in mind that legitimate mystery shopping businesses will not require an upfront fee."

The business group suggests consumers contact the Mystery Shopping Providers Association for additional information.


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