Graduate student Nicole Saylor works two jobs to cover her bills, and recently signed up with a popular online job search engine to find a third. When a company identifying itself as a mystery shopping program emailed her an offer, it sounded too good to be true.
"They give you $200 per job and what you do is you carry out whatever assignment they give you," said Saylor.
Her first few assignments with Mystery Shopper worked just like her new employers said. They gave her $20 to shop, she wrote up a store review, they then paid her $200 for her time.
"Everything was paid to me first. I didn't have to give any money. I didn't have to do anything, it was money gram. Everything seemed legitimate. Deposited the money, showed no problem."
The problems for Saylor started when Mystery Shopper would wire her more than a normal pay check. She says they would then ask her to wire back the excess, sometimes hundreds at a time.
"None of the money that I sent them appeared as if it was my money because they were sending it to me first," said Saylor.
A couple days after she wired Mystery Shopper cash, she explains, the money she had already deposited from the company mysteriously disappeared from her account. Her money grams from Mystery Shopper were gone, and in their place a note from the bank - insufficient funds. Saylor says Mystery Shopper scammed her out of more than $7,000. Before she became suspicious, Mystery Shopper had her wiring money to several different addresses in the United States and abroad.
"You always hear never give out money. I never did. So be careful by retrieving money. If you retrieve money make sure everything you deposit or everything they give to you, you wait at least 5 days, at least a week before you even touch that money because you don't know if it's valid," says Saylor.
Saylor notified her bank, the FBI, Lexington Police, and the Internet Crime Complaint Center about the scam.
Others have called 27 NEWSFIRST with similar stories involving a company named Mystery Shopper. Mystery Shopper is not listed with the Better Business Bureau. Saylor was unable to get a physical address from the company. She only worked with Mystery Shopper through e-mail and text messaging.
Saylor recommends everyone check a company's BBB rating before working with them. She also says it's important to ask for a physical address.