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Attorney General warns of bogus employment scams

Attorney General warns of bogus employment scams

(Internet Safety, Scams, Identity Theft) Permanent link

Unemployed workers in Washington and the rest of the country are targets for crooks posing as headhunters, the Attorney General’s Office warned today. Scams include bogus job offers and realistic-looking e-mail messages that contain links to computer viruses or phishing sites.

Listen to Attorney General Rob McKenna discuss threats to unemployed workers and read today's consumer alert for a description of specific scams reported in our state.

Job seeker tips:

  • Avoid any job that requires you to pay money up front. And never send money by Western Union or Moneygram to someone you don’t know, even if you are sent a check. Fraudulent wire transfers are one of the most common scams.
  • Protect your personal information.
    • Use caution when posting your resume online and take advantage of tools that allow you to hide your contact information. Reputable career Web sites will provide you with the opportunity to communicate with potential employers via a confidential e-mail address, so that your real e-mail address remains private.
    • Never include your Social Security number, driver’s license or birth date on an online resume or share this information until you have confirmed that the employer and the job offer are genuine.
  • Don’t click on links sent in e-mails.
  • Check out potential employers with the Better Business Bureau and independently confirm the employer’s identity. It should be a red flag if an employer uses a common e-mail account like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or MSN instead of a corporate domain. Be suspicious, too, if the only provided phone number always goes to voicemail or if the only available contact address is a P.O. box.
  • Secure your computer. Ensure that your computer operating software and anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are updated to detect the latest threats and protect your system.
  • Steer clear of too-good-to-be-true offers that promise large paychecks for few hours of work.

Posted by AGO Blog Moderator at 01/26/2009 12:24:28 PM | 

I received one of these scams via e-mail. It is as follows:

Hello ,

Your application has been viewed by our customer service, and has been approved. Through extensive background checks, your information has been reviewed and processed. It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been cleared to receive employment from our company.

Your first assignment would be to run a survey on two(2) prominent companies in your area, which would be disclosed to you later on, comapnies are listed below

The 1st is a Money Gram Location (Walmart)

The 2nd a Restaurant

The management and staff of Money Gram has reported a laps in the services of their Management and some of their staffs.

Their complains were based on reports which their customers forwarded anonymously and Phone calls which were also made to the head office.

The Money Gram location was reported for evaluation for the following reasons.

I) Customers have reported their money missing
ii) Slow services
iii) Unbalanced exchange rate
(Iv) Poor services
(v) Rudeness to customers
(vi) Excess charge
(vii) Late opening time and Closing before time.

The 2nd company was reported to be rendering

(I) Poor services
(ii) Rudeness to customers
(iii) Excess charge
(iii) Late opening time and Closing before time.

Your Secret Evaluation (first assignment) would be

1) To make a transfer of fund from this Money Gram location to our Mystery shopper in the us or anywhere we prescribe which would be given to you,
And the funds would be picked up by our based mystery shopper at the exact location Which a customer reported her funds stolen from.

2) You would have to record the time at which you got to the location and the duration of the transaction.You would be sent a check which would cover your payment of $300 for the duty. As soon as you receive the check, you would then cash at your bank, and deduct your $300, and use the rest of the money for the services.

3) Upon receiving the funds, the locations address would be forwarded to you, and also the Name and address of whom the Mystery shoppers transfer would be made to. You would have to keep a comprehensive report on every activity you carry out.

4) You would also provide me with the name of the cashier that attended to you.

As a reminder:
Every activity of Mystery shoppers remains a secret between you and your employees. As as the company reserves the right to every documentation and information which you gather on behalf of the company. More so, I will always provide the necessary funds for you to carry out any project/assignment given to you.

Mystery shopping is used in a wide variety of industries such as retail stores, restaurants, financial institutions, convenience stores and gas stations, service providers, manufacturers, department stores, travel and entertainment etc.

How much do you pay? When do you pay?
Each shopping assignment has different arrangements. The normal range of payments is $250 - $300, although some are much higher. For some shops, such as a restaurant where you will derive a personal benefit, the payment may be to reimburse you for the cost of a meal for two. The payment in each situation is explained before you agree to do the shop.

Let me know if you are ready for this task , so that I can prepare the cashier for this activity and get the check sent out to you ASAP , to cover for the cost of the wire transfer and your commission.

A swift acknowledge of receipt of this email and your readiness to continue with this job will be appreciated.

Best Regards,
Attn:: David Desmond
Holland & Davis LLC
1600 Marathon Oil Tower 5555
San Felipe Houston, TX 77056
Phone # 8327171168

It is from the following e-mail address: Kelvin Grant (
Posted by: Kelly Griffin ( Email ) at 4/13/2009 4:33 PM

The following is the email I received


It’s great hearing from you, Mystery Guest, Inc. © is a company that conducts surveys and stealth evaluation of companies and organisations. Our mystery shoppers pose as normal customers to perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way and then providing detailed reports or feedback about their experiences.

Unlike the methodologies used in mainstream market research mystery shopping attempts to gauge the service delivery process instead of the service result. You are to visit businesses to evaluate.

These evaluations are done anonymously, with you posing as a regular customer. After which you are required to complete a detailed critique, including a detailed written summary/story line of the visit, customer services and product, salesmanship, hospitality. Etc

Examples of details you would forward to us are :

1) How long it took you to get services.
2) Smartness of the attendant
3) Customer service professionalism
4) Sometimes you might be required to ruffle the attendant a bit, to see how they react to clients when under pressure. And we turn the information over to the company executives and they would carry out their own duties in improving there services.

After which we customize your evaluation criteria to meet the goals and expectations this companies have established for their customers. We then communicate your results back to the companies in an accurate, comprehensive and timely manner.
Most companies employ our assistance when people give complains about their services, or when they feel there are needs for them to improve their customer service.

Your Identity would be kept confidential as the job states (secrets shopper) you would be paid $200 for every duty you carry out, and bonus on your transportation allowance, and funds would be given to you if you have to dine as part of the duty.
Your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide variety of shops, stores, restaurant and services in your area. No commitment is made on this job, and you would have flexible hours as it suits you. If you are interested do send in your full name contact address and telephone number, so we can find assignment areas that are close to you and would suit you and offer you flexibility, your address would also be needed for your payments.

I would have to put you down in our data base system as one of our numerous agents, And you would be covering your area, and some close cities near you, you would find this job very interesting and rewarding. An acceptance e mail would be sent to you, we have evaluation activities around your city that is why we need your services I would have to get you the full details of the services which you would have to partake in. I would like to know what your schedule is so I know what days to fix you in. As soon as you are accepted for this job, you would be given full details of the activities you have to carry out, and you would be told what to keep for records, and your payment information would be included in the mail.

If you are still interested, Please reply this e mail with the following information :-

Full Name:
full Mailing Address (not P..O.Box please):
Zip Code:
Cell Phone:
Home Phone:
Marital Status:
Best Times To Call:
Present Job Status/Position:

Best Regards,
Attn:: Paul Carlson
Mystery Guest, Inc.
Winter Park, Florida
Phone # 8327171168
Posted by: Rosetta Pettis ( Email ) at 8/9/2009 6:49 PM

Ah, yes, the Mystery Shopping scam. That's a popular one that we've warned about several times.
Posted by: Kristin Alexander, All Consuming Moderator ( Email ) at 8/10/2009 3:20 PM

My name is Crystal Grover, I'm from Texas and this currently happened to me. I recieved an email...

Hello ,

Congratulations your application has been viewed by our Hiring department, and has been approved. Through extensive background checks your information has been reviewed and processed.It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been cleared to receive employment from us.

Your first assignment would be to run a survey on two(2) prominent companies in your area, whose exact location would be disclosed to you later,Both companies are listed below. [COMMENT SUBSTANTIALLY EDITED FOR SPACE BY BLOG MODERATOR.]

Best Regards,
Attn: Charles Crenshaw
Human Resources Manager
Phone # - 817-984-9485
AceSurveys Mystery Shopper Inc

Then I was sent two money orders in the amount of 955.35 each by fed-ex. When I received these I got suspicious and called the cops.

This is happening everywhere and it LOOKS REAL. Is there anything we can do to stop them?
Posted by: Crystal Grover ( Email ) at 9/24/2009 8:53 AM

Has anyone heard of the your hired scam? they tell you that after going through thousands of resumes your the one they have choosen. Then they ask you to go to a link and submitt a credit check as they cannot hire anyone without this. They do not tell you where they are located, no interview, and usually a funky looking web site. Beware this is going on all the time on craigs list. So if you are looking for a job look out [All Consuming Moderator's Response: Yep, one of the many varieties of scams out there. Thanks for sharing, Tim.]
Posted by: Tim ( Email ) at 9/8/2010 11:10 AM

I have been doing mystery shops for Mystery Guest Inc for over two years and I have never had any problems. I have never been asked to send any money, nor have I had an issue in receiving the stated compensation. I have had other "mystery shop" sites email me and they ask for money up fron-Mystery Guest Inc does not do this. [BLOG MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Mystery Guest has a poor rating with the Better Business Bureau.]
Posted by: Laurie Morgan ( Email ) at 10/23/2010 6:19 AM

Curious is Mystery Guest shooper, Inc a legit business? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: We can't verify whether a business is "legit" on name alone. What I can say is that if the business asks you to send money to them, or wire money, it's a scam.]
Posted by: Bernie ( Email ) at 1/19/2011 10:33 AM

Now can someone tell me if this is a scam or not.... [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: I deleted the email you received from this post, Monica, because it's too long for a comment. But yes, it's a scam. There are many, many red flags but the most obvious is that this bogus employer wants you to wire money. Don't do it.]
Posted by: Monica ( Email ) at 3/1/2011 11:55 AM

I had been working for Mystery Guest Inc., doing observations at the [name of grocery chain] in my area. All was fine until I was asked to do an observation at the [name of company] Pharmacy. I was personally called by the company to do this and offered the usual gift cards as well as a check for compensation. It has been 2 months and I have not been compensated. I have contacted them numerous times with no success. They refuse to answer phone calls. [BLOG MODERATOR’S RESPONSE: Unfortunately, most secret shopper programs that advertise online or via e-mail are scams. Usually, they want you to send money as part of a job or after completing an assignment – typically via Western Union or Moneygram. Being asked to wire money is always an indicator of a scam. Once you wire money, it is usually impossible to get it back. I hope that isn’t your case. But if so, I’m sorry. Find information about legitimate companies on the Mystery Shopping Provider’s Association Web site at ]
Posted by: Eileen B ( Email ) at 4/2/2011 10:23 AM

I have been shopping for Mystery Guest for almost three years now. I have never had trouble with a payment that wasn't quickly resolved. I'm actually surprised to learn that they have a bad rating with BBB. I shop for many companies and Mystery Guest is by far the best one out there. I'm so surprised by the comments here because I have not had the same experience. (Unfortunately for me it seems their offerings are few and far between now - maybe their rating has something more to do with their clients rather than their shoppers)?
Posted by: carrie ( Email ) at 9/12/2011 6:24 PM

My friend and I have both done mystery guest for a long time. Its not a scam.
Posted by: Mystery Guest ( Email ) at 9/13/2011 2:33 PM

Hello - I have received the following email and am wondering if it is connected to a scam. The sender is willing to SEND all credit card info VIA EMAIL to pay for the ad. I am more worried that my readers who would reply to this would be scammed themselves. (email follows:)
Hello, I will like to place an advert with your company,i will be very glad if you could post my advert i will happily like to pay via credit card,below are the advert text ====================== ADS TEXT ====================== Our company name Mystery Guest Inc have a vacancy in our office for the post of a team player and a Shopper,Requirements Should be a computer Literate. 24 hours access to the internet weekly.Must be Efficient and Dedicated.If you are interested and need more information,Contact Rab John, ================================== Kindly get back to me with the quote of the advert for 6 weeks,and also how do you run your adverts?i will happily like to via credit card,i will email you the whole credit card details to charge for the quote of our advert. Copyright 2009 LCS Kind Regard. Mr Rab.

Please advise....
[ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: This is an advance fee fraud scam targeting small businesses.]
Posted by: Kathy L ( Email ) at 4/16/2012 9:12 AM

Curious is Mystery Guest shooper, Inc a legit business? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: We can't verify whether a business is "legit" on name alone.]
Posted by: mysteryshopper ( Email ) at 5/14/2013 7:02 AM

great advice
Posted by: check pnr status ( Email ) at 6/26/2013 12:11 PM

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