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'Mystery shopper' scam hits area

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Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:14 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

A nationwide scam promising quick, easy money and a new job has Killeen police handling too many reports to count and one Killeen woman as its victim.

Sgt. Greg Ebert said a by-mail scam that offers a mystery shopper job opportunity and easy money is spreading throughout the United States.

The scam's method makes tracing the culprits time-consuming, expensive and unlikely. As a result, Killeen police believe the best remedy is to spread the word before residents become victims.

In February, a Killeen woman received a $4,880 cashier's check and a letter in the mail from Dynamic Temporary Employment Inc., offering a mystery shopper job.

The job advertised an earning potential of up to $500 per week if the woman spent $50 at national shopping chains posing as a mystery shopper.

The letter instructs to "evaluate" a Western Union or similar money transfer business by wiring the rest of the cashier's check, minus $300 given to the victim, to one of several addresses in Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas and New York.

However, the check is fake; when the bank listed on the check doesn't pay the money transfer business, the victim becomes the suspect.

The Better Business Bureau issued an alert on Feb. 16 saying that Fehr Foods Inc. of Abilene had its accounts stolen by a Canadian check scam ring that sent letters from Canada to potential victims across the United States.

This scam is a variant of the Nigerian e-mail scams where a person pretending to be in a war-torn African nation claims they desperately need someone to cash a check for thousands of dollars because their banks are caught up in the war.

"They prey on sympathies of a lot of Americans have for those who are less fortunate," Ebert said.

In some instances the scam starts when people seek jobs online or sign up for false Web sites. The victims receive an e-mail or a letter at their home offering a money-making opportunity that's too easy for the financially strapped recipients, typically low-income or elderly, to resist.

If you have any questions or information, contact the Killeen Police Department's Crimes Against Property Section at (254) 501-8960

Contact Victor O'Brien at vobrien@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468.

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