Netsafe’s contact centre has received an increase in ‘mystery/secret shopper’ scams being reported.

Read on to find out about the scam and what to do if you’re targeted.

What is the mystery shopper scam?

These scammers send text messages to random mobile numbers saying they’re looking for mystery shoppers.
They ask people to email them with their details if they’re interested.

The scammers then email back saying:

  • Your information has been reviewed/approved and you have been selected as a mystery shopper evaluator
  • You’ve been selected to undertake an evaluation within your postal code and they expect your evaluation to be completed within a few days of receipt of payment
  • They have now processed a payment cheque of the funds you will need to complete your first evaluation
  • They will also include in that cheque your evaluation payment which you will earn upon completing your first survey
  • Your first evaluation/job description

How does the scam work?

The scammers will request that for your first evaluation/job that you review a money transfer system, such as Western Union. They will send you a cheque to cover the cost of the ‘mystery shop’. After you’ve cashed the cheque and completed the ‘mystery shop’ the cheque will bounce. This means that the amount of the cheque will be deducted from your bank account, leaving you out of pocket.

Why are the scammers doing this?

It’s likely that the scammers are using you to ‘cleanse’ money. They may have used a different scam on someone else to give you the cheque and want to collect that money without it being traced back to them. That’s why they ask people to review Western Union in the ‘mystery shop’ – because the payment cannot be reversed and they cannot be traced.

What should you do?

If you receive an unsolicited text, email, message on social media or something in the post about an easy way to make money just ignore the message – delete it, or throw it in the bin. Our advice it to only use money transfer systems like Western Union or MoneyGram when transferring funds to someone you know personally. Scammers often use these systems because they can’t be traced through them. If you come across a scam you should report it to Netsafe online or call 0508 NETSAFE so that we can warn others of emerging trends.

If you’re unsure if something is a scam contact us and we can help you.

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