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Scammers need a good story to get to your wallet. Once they find one that works, they use it again and again. One of their old favorites brings together fake checks and secret shopping, and we’ve been hearing a lot about it lately.

Here’s how it starts. You get a check in the mail with a job offer as a secret shopper. You deposit the check and see the funds in your account a few days later, and the bank even tells you the check has cleared.

Now you’re off to the store you’ve been asked to shop at and report back on, often a Walmart. Your first assignment is to test the in-store money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram, by sending some of the money you deposited. Or you might be told to use the money to buy reloadable cards or gift cards, such as iTunes cards. You’re instructed to send pictures of the cards or to give the numbers on the cards.

Fast forward days or weeks to the unhappy ending. The bank finds out the check you deposited is a fake, which means you’re on the hook for all that money. How does that even happen? Well, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. By the time you try to get the money back from the money transfer service, the scammers are long gone, and they’ve taken all the money off the gift cards, too. (By the way, money orders and cashier’s checks can be faked, too.)

The moral of the story? If anyone ever asks you to deposit a check and then wire or send money in any way, you can bet it’s a scam. No matter what they tell you.

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August 21, 2020
I just received one of these scams via Priority Mail. What's nice is these schmucks get to pay the $7.75 cost and go to all the trouble and expense of setting up the scam with a letter and a fake check, and all they get from it is my possibly reporting it to the FTC.
August 21, 2020
How do you report a scam website? I started getting calls today because some site has been scamming people to buy ebooks which apparently does not exist. In their website, they have my phone number listed and used the address of a building I have for sale.
August 22, 2020
I got a cashier's check from Walmart it was for 2,000 dollars we got to looking at it and it had no name just the bank name I know right away it was a scam
August 24, 2020
I just received one of these mystery shopper money orders with instructions in the mail Saturday I went to a local check cashing place to have it checked out and im glad I did before I deposited it into my account I texted the number that was on the letter letting them know that I went to my bank and another bank and they both said it was a fake money order they have not replied back yet but before this I had texted the number yesterday and I asked them if I could just cash it cause I don't have an account they told me to open an account
August 25, 2020
I received a check from MBW Technologies, LLC for $2420.62. I don't know if it's real or not! Before I deposit it into account, how do I verify it? Please advise. Thank you!
August 27, 2020
I’m so glad I looked into this “too good to be true” money I got. I received one envelope with a money order for $1000 and another one with cashiers check for $2450. We had been fighting homelessness for last year since his heart put him down last year and I was in bad wreck. Both unable to work so lost business and home so had to sell all our possessions to get us by and into a small camper. So I was really hopeful! Thanks guys for the heads up on this and keeping us from getting taken like this. I’m so sorry for those of you that were taken by the evil behind this scam. Pray you can all recover quickly and possibly some consequence for the ones behind this scam. Have a blessed day
August 28, 2020
I got a check from Sun trust bank Priorty Mail for $2550.00 I tore it up I didn't apply nor asked for money. SCAM SCAM SCAM!!
August 28, 2020
I received a check today for $4,850.00 from Kelton Research LLC to have a wrap put on my car for Monster Energy drinks. Fraud or no fraud
August 31, 2020
I just received a check to deposit and purchase gift cards who can I report this to
August 31, 2020
I just received a cashier's check with no watermark for $2630.00. Before I even knew there was a check I was receiving harried texts asking about the check. That was a red flag in it's self. The check is from a bank in New York. I live in Seattle. The sender is InterLink Experience Inspired by Tomorrow.
August 31, 2020
Just deposited the check then came here. Talk about bad luck. Got info from LinkedIn
Sarasota Savvy
September 01, 2020
Just got a check for $2390.73 in a priority mail envelope with instructions to keep $295 and buy American Express gift cards ($2000 worth) and email them photos of the front and backs of cards. I was LOL! Who falls for this stuff? Immediately reported it to the FTC and posting here. Please don't fall for any of these scams.
September 03, 2020
I received a text yesterday from +1 (440) 855-7482 saying Walmart is, “doing an exceptionally huge research project in your general vicinity.” It offered me $400 for 20-30 minutes in the store and some time filling out a post-experience report.
September 03, 2020
I received a check to shop but I haven't done anything with it and I had a text message telling me that I need to go shop right away so I can get "whoever" their money. I'm not doing it. So now the question is what do I do with the fake check?
Shaken my head
September 28, 2020

In reply to by TL

Either take the check to your bank and properly have them dispose of it let your bank know that you know it's a scam check or take it to a shredder and or burn pile
September 03, 2020
I received a "cashiers check" for $2390.73. The letter wanted me to purchase American Express gift cards. I received a text message asking if I'd done the "shop" yet. I said no, that I was waiting for the check to clear. It only took 1 day to bounce. I can't even figure out the scam. Can someone explain it to me? Thankfully, all I am out is the $12 bounced-check-fee. Now, one week later I received a text from a different (fake) phone number asking if I'd completed the "shop." I will block these numbers and hopefully that'll be the end of this.
September 03, 2020
Careful of Darwin Whitton and jlkresearch. Just like everyone else said. You get a big check and are instructed to make purchases. If it were a real check, wouldn't be very easy for someone (unlike me or you of course) to steal the money? One could just cash it and do nothing? That's why the check is bogus. Darwin Whitton and jlkresearch are thieves.
September 04, 2020
Someone under the name Peter Bedford texted me with a ups tracking code for a special package to survey Whole Foods in my area and the package came with a fake check unprofessional letter with nothing handwritten all typed, even the package label. SCAM!!!! 850-257-7835 is the number the alias reached me with and asked I notify when the package arrived. CSET is a scam! This happened today 9/4/2020
Let's taco about it
September 05, 2020
My sister's boyfriend got a message from one of his contacts on LinkedIn who referred him to this secret shopper "job." This person showed him a website and a Facebook page for the supposed company and everything seemed okay to him. He ended up signing up and got a check in the mail for $1864 and was told to purchase gift cards. I immediately knew is was scam because of the fact they were asking him to buy gift cards. That's like "Scamming 101." It took me a while to convince them it was a scam. They wanted to go to the bank and have a teller verify the check for them. Thankfully, I found this website and showed it to them. They eventually came to terms it was a scam and disposed of the fake check. Be careful, people!
September 06, 2020
I was given a check in the mail too. I deposited it into my bank account. In two days the bank said it cleared. I was asked to purchase debit cards from walmart. Then I was to make pictures and send them back to scammer. I didnt look up this website until it was too late. Now I'm waiting for the bank to say I have a fake check . I'm going out of my mind waiting for an answer from the bank. It's only been 3 day since this happened.
Bonnie M
September 07, 2020
I got scammed with a cashier's check! I am Hought it was legite. I was wrong and ended up losing my SS disability check to cover loss
September 09, 2020
I received a check for the amount of 2,390 and a letter requesting that I purchased some AMEX gift cards. Since I believe this is a scam, I did not cash it. So glad I found this to confirm my suspicion.
September 09, 2020
I recently received a check from "Zebra Surveys" along with several emails directing me to deposit this check and buy gift cards. Where can I report this info? I have the records and the check.
September 09, 2020
Got a text from one 'Jack Thorpe' sharing a job offer and a link to their website - Reading through their website it was an intriguing offer, get $300 to shop and share your experience. But a quick google search - momentum consumer metrics legit? brought me to this article. Thank you for clearing it up.
September 10, 2020
I just received one and I think this is fake I looked up the name of the credit union,there is such a bank out of Oklahoma, it looks so real,I will v Not deposit the check it's a lot of money
September 11, 2020
Just received a text from someone named "Harry Thorpe" a certified data analyst from MCM about a supposed job offer. All i have to do is send my resume to the following website momentumc ustomermetrics / and participate in some interactive exercise that only takes 1-3 hours. WOW what a deal! Too bad i knew to google first and luckily it led me to this post. Thanks everyone for sharing your experience, wish that our cell providers sniffed out this spam and filtered it out so innocent people don't fall prey to these scams.
September 10, 2020
This scam is still happening. Today I received a priority mail envelope in the mail. It had a typed letter from the food store Kroger talking about a secret shopping experience and telling me to purchase gift cards. The name on the letter was Andrew Beck. There was a check as well for approximately $1400. I then received a text message this evening from a person stating they were Andrew Beck telling me to follow the instructions in the letter. DO NOT DEPOSIT THIS CHECK. Do not go and buy gift cards or answer any secret shopper questions. If it’s too good to be true...
January 16, 2021

In reply to by Aceydzit

I fell victim of a similar scam. Again, a $1400 fake check and "Andrew Beck" explained the instructions to follow, requiring me to purchase eBay gift cards and keep $400 commission (first 300 and then another 100 bonus if completed within 24 hours). They had texted me asking me to buy $400 more of gift cards because management instructed and then the directions changed via text. I became very suspicious when they explained that in a text and it was outside of the agreement/letter. Three days later the check was cancelled and I was out $1000 plus a $15 returned check fee. I am glad I held off on purchasing the other cards but it is a difficult time per pandemic for people without consistent income. I feel very saddened that people can be so hurtful and ashamed that I should have protected myself better upon trusting these supposed opportunities. What is our world coming to... to push people to such extremes to hurt each other because money is so hard. I am frustrated that I allowed myself to be dooped.
September 24, 2020
I had responded to Ad via Facebook for Whole Foods project Was approached with a text message from 1-(346) 306-9585 : 1. Whole Foods Market ® is starting an exceptionally huge research project in your general vicinity. This project happens each week, so we need to choose Shoppers to work as a store evaluator. You will get $500 on each endeavor and we send you a payment for the survey task. Every task requires 20-30 minutes of time at the store in addition to time to review your post-visit reports. CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION: beqIY0SpXc DlQuEnV4xt 2. A person on first name basis, says his name is Peter sends me a text message me from 1-(972)525-4458. Hello Cxxxx, This is Peter .You submitted your information via our SMS marketing to work as a Whole Foods Market store Evaluator. Your details have been verified and you are shortlisted as one of our representatives. Your first assignment package has been sent and will deliver to your door step or mailbox via USPS. Here is the tracking number: 9405521809954374214532 Let me know when you have it so that you can follow the instruction letter. Thanks **** I asked for my more information and no reply to answer. My next text to get his last name and he replied Peter Bedford with Whole Foods. I am busy single mother working as an essential worker with 2 jobs. So this opportunity for extra income to do secret shopper was only my last priority to answer his question whether I received his package. Not until he really became pushy with one word Hello and then other texts demanding if I went to my Mailing address to pick up the letter. One text said "why you be silent when you you have survey task payment" I went to my mailbox to get the package and the letter and a fake looking check for $2510 enclosed. Sent a picture to banking friend who confirmed it looks fake. I sent my text with the picture of the letter instruction to buy gift cards Vanilla Visa and for Target rating the store procedure and doing what others here are mentioning with the cards. Not taking a chance with this and sending this package Return to Sender at post office to report there as well. Beware the name of Peter D. Bedford of Whole Foods, as he does not exist there. I checked with my sources. Thank you.
November 02, 2020

In reply to by LunarCat1

Received the exact same scam = cannot believe it!
September 13, 2020
received the same thing this yesterday Same name. He just said to go to one Post Office. I deposited the check but I didn't take the money out yet, so I will be calling my bank tomorrow morning. Thank God for Clombus Day
Kathy J
September 14, 2020
We both got them on Long Island- we have two new Whole Foods opening locally and thats what they claimed to be representing... I would have gone for it but for the really cheap photostat logo on the paper!
September 14, 2020
Just got the same priority package with check and one page flyer. Shredded it. Total Scam
September 15, 2020
I received a Priority Mail flat mailer today. In it was a Money Order for $969.00. They said I had been chosen as I had applied to be a secret shopper. I did not apply, " Alarm Bells " so then I read the letter its much like the ones you have shared. They want me to keep $250.00 for my assignment. Since we have Covid go to the store of my choice, buy $700.00 worth of EBay Cards, either in $100 or $50.00 increments. Then come home scratch off the pin, take photos of each one, including the receipt and send it to them via email. If I get it done in 12-24 hrs. there is a bonus. Send it all in and wait for my next assignment. I knew it was a fraud. But they made a mistake in sending this to me. I have notified ABC local TV in Portland. Our local Newspaper, and I am notifying the Attorney General of the State of Oregon and I also am notifying the fraud division of the FBI since they sent it through the mail, its Federal. I will make their lives a living Hell. Sorry. But its bad to do this anytime and take advantage of people but its unconscionable first we have so many people hurting out of work, lost jobs and now we have the wild fires and many have lost their homes and everything they have. I can't stand by and allow them to take advantage of the people here in the PNW especially during this time. They even sent me a email tonight to make sure I want to go through with the assignment. Nothing written just to make sure I am on board. Mine is Phillips Product Testing Secret Shopper. Thanks for having this forum to share stories. I hope this helps someone else. I am not 100% certain but I think if you contact your banks Fraud division they will work with you on the check or money order your deposited. My bank will help so maybe yours will as well. Good Luck
September 15, 2020
What do you know! Online everyday job searching during all the layoffs and pandemic, I received a $2900.00 dollar check in a large envelope from or with one of the websites I’ve been searching on for employment. Excitedly I am reading this scam of a letter ! SCAM SCAM SCAM ALL OVER IT!!
September 16, 2020
People Beware: Letter with Wholefoods logo was delivered via USPS from address: Pacificlight Inc. - 160 Hollowway Ave San Francisco, CA 94112 Included: Instructions to buy Nike cards signed by Mark Henderson & check to deposit from "The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center of Sarasota, Inc." Check Amount: $2,950.52 signed by Jean C. Altemhain ALLLLLLL FRAUDDDD!!!! Do not deposit and do not lose your precious money.
Robert 1965
September 17, 2020
Is the penny hoarder survey program legit I received a check with a letter on these letter it says the penny hoarder survey program at the top of the letter also had a check in the amount of 2452.61 the check has home depot on it wanting me to spend 2100. On ebay gift cards is this a fake check
Osburn, A
September 18, 2020
Thank you so much! Im glad I decided to look online before going to Walmart!
Don't use your…
September 19, 2020
I received one today from Gem survey inc. out of Dallas Texas I’m certainly aware it’s a scam but can’t we do something about this???
September 19, 2020
9/19 I just received one in the mail - Priority Mail. It looks real, with silver stamps on it. Should I send it to you?
September 21, 2020
Received a text from 276-779-3272 asking me to confirm and that they would be sending a an assignment. This was on 9/14/2020 just received a Priority mail package from In-depth Concept LTD located at 1830 Market St in San Francisco CA Check was from Magnolia Rock Center LLC in NY for 2950.00 I am to purchase $2500 worth of NIKE scratch off and send the image to 346-366-4252 WHO will follow up on this? I had not responded to the original text but saved a screen shot
September 21, 2020
I received a package in the mail today and knew right away that it was a scam. Contacted the BBB and local news agencies to get the word out
September 22, 2020
I just received a $2484.00 cashier's check for secret shopping. Thought to myself this is totally weird, why are they sending me money when I haven't done anything yet....RED FLAG, who pays you when you haven't completed a job. Just like you never pay a contractor in full until the job is completed. When something is too good to be true, its a scam. Then reading on my assignment was to go into CVS and get (4) $500 gift, this is a scam.....I immediately goggle the company and a scam alert popped up. Now on here going to report.
September 23, 2020
I’ve received three checks to be a secret shopper I know they sound so convincing but if it were true there would have been something on the new s about it and there have been others car wrap checks I have a stack of all of them I just don’t know where to send them
September 23, 2020
This was a check written on a bank in Louisiana. The company called themselves CONSUMER RESEARCH NETWORK, and wanted me to 1) let them know by email that I had received the check; 2) deposit the check right away; 3) deduct my commission of $400; and 4) conduct my evaluation (buying Nike gift cards and sending pictures of them). There were bonuses for completing everything hastily. Their letter was full of poor grammar, bad spelling,, and incomplete information. The check was signed by one person, the letter by another, and a third kept sending me text messages, using a different company name. They were also sending me sex messages. Scum.
September 24, 2020
I just got this text message today. LOL unbelievable!!! Stay all y'all, watch out for these underhanded, slimy scammers. Here's the text, I copied and pasted: (775)223-2578 Good day, will you be interested in becoming a part-time mystery shopper earning 500 dollars per assignment evaluating CVS, Walmart, Kroger, 7eleven or Bestbuy in your area. Kindly click on this link to read more and register forms. gle / uiUBYDHd qW47CBC19 Thanks, Dustin Taylor
September 24, 2020
After applying for a Personal Assistant position on Facebook. First I received a text asking if I applied for a PA job, I replied yes. A few days later I received a check for $1880 from Inland Truck Parts Company. Then a barrage of texts asking me to deposit it in the bank, it as my first payment for one week service. I should send the balance to them thru the Cash App. I sent them this sight, linked to the scam page then blocked their number.
September 24, 2020
I received texted asking me to be secret shopper I thought this seems interesting who doesn't want to make $200.- $600. A day Wow! Right? So I read info. No where did I see who company was so I scrolled to bottom of page there was an address 2920MetroRetailShopperInc. I Googled it : Huh SCAM THANK YOU NOPE THANK GOODNESS I DIDN'T SIGN UP!!!
September 25, 2020
What if I deposit the check into my bank account and just keep the money instead of sending anything to anyone ?
Francisca Dale
September 25, 2020
I received a cashiers check today for $1,978.16 . The company’s name is AMEX/Wal-Mart served program. Is this a fraud?