As scams continue to become more and more sophisticated, it is becoming more challenging to tell the difference between a legitimate offer and a scam. A new scam targets people and claims they have been selected as a secret shopper.
Valerie Dillahunt had applied to be a secret shopper at large retail stores like Walmart to make some money while working from home. She had never been a victim of a scam before, and didn’t think she ever would.
“I just clicked on the email, and when they said would you like to participate I said yes,” Dillahunt said. “I just clicked yes. Bad thing to do.”
Within weeks of signing up to be a secret shopper, Dillahunt received a check in the mail for more than $1,900 with the Walmart logo on it. The letter attached to the check said that she needed to deposit the check in her bank account, and use the money to shop and provide feedback to the company. She also had to register the check on www.wmjobscontrol.com to become a consumer service evaluator.
However, unlike tradition scams, Dillahunt was never asked to pay any money or give out any of her personal information.
The check looked legitimate, so she thought it was real. However, after a closer inspection, she noticed several things that just didn’t add up. For one, the postage on the envelope the check came in was from Madrid. The check also had Wachovia Bank on it, which was bought by Wells Fargo years ago.
Walmart said they have never employed secret shoppers in their stores, nor would they ever send someone a check in the mail in this manner. In a statement, a Walmart spokesperson said, “The letter and website in question are not affiliated with Walmart. Unfortunately, people occasionally take advantage of our brand to perpetrate these types of scams. The safety and privacy of our customers is a top priority and we are currently looking into our options to have the site taken down.”
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said spring is the time when a lot of scams seem to pop up. He said the state tries to keep up with the new scams, but knows those behind them are adapting too.
“The word gets out that they’re running a particular scam, they’ll just change it,” Cooper said. “It can be a nuisance, it can be another story.”
Dillahunt said she is afraid that had she deposited the check, those behind the scam would have been able to gain her bank account information.
For more information on scams that use the Walmart name, click here.
If you feel that you have been a victim of a scam, you’re encouraged to contact your local law enforcement office. There are also resources through the state’s Department of Justice website. For more information on that, click here.