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Mystery shopper scams on the rise

Fraudsters are always thinking about new ways to get your money or personal information. We give you tips to recognize scams and protect yourself.

Mystery shopper scams are increasingly prevalent in Quebec and Ontario. Fraudsters mail a large amount of cheques made out to potential victims, along with letters that contain the following instructions:

  • You are given an opportunity to take part in a mystery shopper campaign.
  • You are asked to use and evaluate Western Union services.
  • You are asked to fill out a feedback form on your experience.
  • You can keep a portion of the cheque amount you received as a thank you for the services you provided and return the remaining balance.

You will be asked to:

  • cash the cheque, with amounts usually ranging from $900 to $4,500
  • have the funds released or use your authorized transit to access the full cheque amount
  • withdraw the funds and transfer them to the fraudster through Western Union

Risks

  • You will later be informed by your financial institution that the cheque was fraudulent.
  • If you have already deposited the cheque and transferred the funds electronically, you may incur a loss.
  • No one is safe from these scam attempts as fraudsters use public registers (Canada411, various phone books, etc.) to send fake cheques.

How to protect yourself from this type of scam

  • Never cash an unsolicited cheque or a cheque with an unknown origin.
  • A legitimate employer will never ask you to send them a portion of the funds paid out to you.
  • Watch out for emails, text messages and unsolicited letters from individuals or companies offering you a job.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What to do if you have been scammed

  • If you haven't yet deposited the cheque, report it to your financial institution as soon as possible.
  • If you have already deposited the cheque, you must contact the financial institution where the deposit was made and inform them that you think you have been scammed and you have deposited a potentially counterfeit cheque.
  • File a complaint with your local police department.

See a fraudulent letter sample (PDF, 1.83 MB) - This link will open in a new window..

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