Secret shopper scam: After Hamilton woman falls victim, police offer warning

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

caption arrowCaption
The couple says they got a letter and a check in the mail from fraudsters claiming to be from Kroger. They caught on to the scam before they lost any money.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Hamilton woman told police she was cheated out of cash after signing up to be a secret shopper.

The 28-year-old reported she applied for the secret shopper job online and was accepted. After receiving an assignment, the woman said she got a check.

But after the check was deposited and the money spent, the woman was notified that the check was fake. The bank then charged her for the money spent.

MORE: Man seen looking in bedroom window charged with voyeurism

Hamilton detectives are investigating, but no arrests have been made.

The secret shopper scam is just one of many that have victimized people in the area. While scams are nothing new, the internet makes them much easier and reaches more victims, according to police.

“Scammers are good at what they do and that is getting people’s money. If anyone is asking someone to deposit a check and then wire/send them money, you can bet it is a scam,” said Hamilton Police Officer Kristy Collins.

Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission so that you don’t become a victim of the secret shopper scam:

  • Becoming a mystery shopper for a legitimate company does not cost anything.
  • Research mystery shopping. Check libraries, bookstores, or online sites for tips on how to find legitimate companies hiring mystery shoppers, as well as how to do the job effectively.
  • Search the internet for reviews and comments about mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications online.
  • Remember that legitimate companies don't charge people to work for them — they pay people to work for them.
  • Never wire money as part of a mystery shopping assignment.
  • You can visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at to search a database of mystery shopper assignments and learn how to apply for them. The MSPA offers certification programs for a fee, but you don't need "certification" to look — or apply — for assignments in its database.

About the Author