TechBite: Secret Shopper Scam – Don’t Get Nailed


By Steve Bass

My mother got a letter from a company in Canada. The cover letter, on decent-looking stationery, and with a real signature, congratulated her for agreeing to be a secret shopper. There were three pages of instructions and an honest-to-goodness Citibank check for $1,500.

The letter said she was to cash the check, use the money to buy items at Sears, Best Buy, and a supermarket, and then rate the stores. On top of that, she could keep whatever she purchased — and get a $300 fee for her time. Sweet, no?

The last part of the job wasn’t very glamorous, it said. She had to rate the service at Western Union and use a Money Gram to wire the remainder of the money back to the Canadian Secret Shopper company.

I told her to hold off while I scoured the Web.

Steve’s Investigation Continued

TechBite’s columnist Steve Bass and PC World Contributing Editor publishes a free weekly newsletter with commentary on the technology products he loves, the strategies for getting the most out of them,and the gotchas that can cause computing misery. Sign up for the newsletter here

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5 thoughts on “TechBite: Secret Shopper Scam – Don’t Get Nailed”

  1. PC Pitstop Support


    We checked your account and you are not “locked out”. There are only three installations showing on a five installation license. Make sure that you are logged in correctly. If necessary, first logout using the button in the lower left corner, then login again using the email address you used to purchase the program and the password linked to that email address. If you need a password lookup, there is a link to do that from the login page.

  2. I bought pc matic on 6-20-2010.Now it is 9-6-2010 and they have locked me out after2 1/2 months of service.I payed50 dollars for a 1 yr subscription.Is this a rip off or a scam in the making.I am very disgusted with this company at what they have pulled on me.Do you have any suggestions on what I can do in this matter to get some sort of satisfaction to fix this problem.

  3. As the saying goes: If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is ! You don’t get something for nothing.

    I don’t think I’d even cash it being that it originated from outside the country. Are you an expert on International laws?

    Required use of Western Union is a big warning flag right there to STAY AWAY from the offer.

    If you are asked to buy things at certain stores and return the change, why not simply make sure there is no change due back?

    If I did cash the check, I’d simply have citibank cash it, then sit on the funds for about 90 days or maybe a year! If you cash a check at your own bank and the deal goes bad then your bank will come after your account for the funds.

    Even if the check is from citibank, I’d make darn certain it wasn’t a “Cash-Advance-Check” before I endorsed it.

    good luck.

  4. So, what happened to your mother the secret shopper? I have to subscribe to your newsletter? My used to secret shop around Newburgh NY about 12-13 years ago. She was paid back what she spent plus 5-15 $$ per s/s . 1997 1998 Never once did they rip her off? I saw where your moms story was going……..sounds like SKAM ville to me.

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