Police and Trading Standards warn of possible scam

Northern Constabulary and The Highland Council are warning the public of a possible 'scam' after receiving reports from people who recently responded to a 'mystery shoppers' advert in a local newspaper. The advert invites people to pose as a 'mystery shopper' and test the services provided by businesses in return for payment.

Those responding to the advert are sent a cheque for a larger sum than a mystery purchase they are required to make, with a request to deposit it into their bank, use a portion for a mystery purchase and their fee, and transfer the remainder to another account. The cheque is fraudulent, and is returned unpaid by the victim's bank, after the money has been transfered.

David MacKenzie, Team Leader with The Highland Council's Trading Standards Unit, said: “Mystery shopping is a perfectly legitimate activity and is an important method used by both businesses and regulators such as Trading Standards to ensure that customers are getting value for money when buying goods and services.  As usual, the scammers are trying to take advantage of a genuine practice with this new way of cheating people out of their hard-earned money”

“Anyone interested in carrying out mystery shopping work should make detailed checks into the organisation involved.  We would advise that you get everything in writing, make checks on-line and if necessary contact Trading Standards or the Police.  We would also suggest that a mode of operation of the type used in this scam is never likely to be the work of a legitimate mystery shopping organisation”

Advice on this and related consumer matters is available from Trading Standards’ partner organisation Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

Police investigations into the reported incidnets are on-going and anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 01463 715555.

11 Oct 2011