BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - There are legitimate jobs out there for "secret shoppers," people who go into stores and evaluating the service, and they usually come from a marketing research firm.
That is why when some people hear about a secret shopper job, they go for it. But later they find out it is a scam and they are in deep trouble.
Since Dawn Manzella's last employer went out of business, she has been looking for work and figured, at best, the packet in the mail would get her something part-time. But when she found a check for more than $2,800 to be a "mystery shopper" at Walmart, she knew something just wasn't right.
"I read this and I said something doesn't make any sense, like I said, because you have two different addresses. You want me to send something to the Philippines, and that is all you hear about on the news, is about laundering money schemes," Manzella said.
The instructions called for Manzella to deposit the check into her bank account, take out $200 for her work and then wire the rest of the money to the next mystery shopper in the Philippines.
Peggy Penders of the Better Business Bureau warned, "A lot of these checks are legitimate - they look legitimate - they go back to a legitimate banking institution. So, often times, if you were to walk them into a bank, you might not get stopped at that teller, because they don't really know how you got that check."
Penders warns job hunters that depositing checks from unfamiliar sources and wiring money to strangers is asking for trouble.
A year ago, News 4 told you about David McManigal who deposited a bogus check for $1,900 into his account and then wired the money in a similar "secret shopper" case. He is now facing federal charges and owes the bank $1,900/
Manzella is relieved she didn't take the bait. The check was made out to look like a cashier's check issued by a credit union in California.
If you get what you suspect to be a bogus check in the mail, bring it to the U.S. Postal Inspectors at your nearest post office and report it for mail fraud.
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