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'Mystery shopper' scam shut down; duped victims into wiring money overseas

Two websites that conned people by recruiting them as “mystery shoppers,” only to trick them out of their money have been shut down by the state of New York.

The sites, Idealcorp.net and Survsonl.com, promised the chance to work from home, helping a market research company gauge customer service at Western Union. Mystery shoppers were issued $2,000 checks, told they could cash them and keep $300 for themselves and wire the rest to someone overseas, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. They would then report on the quality of Western Union’s customer service.

But the $2,000 check turned out to be counterfeit, and once the bank where the con victims deposited it learned it was worthless, the victim had already sent off the $1,700 balance – using his or her own funds. The banks held the victims accountable to pay back the money.

"These scams are particularly insidious because they target individuals looking for ways to bolster their income in today's challenging job climate," Schneiderman said. "While legitimate 'work from home' opportunities do exist, scammers who are simply stealing money under the guise of offering employment are on notice. Our office will continue to protect consumers and shut these bad actors down."

Schneiderman warned people to be leery of work-at-home opportunities, especially if they require any transfer of funds using Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service.

“Mystery shoppers set up through legitimate companies are generally paid after completing their assignments and returning their evaluations to the companies that hired them,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement. “They do not receive checks up front.”

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