Fairfield Police Department Warns Residents of Secret Shopper Scam

The Fairfield Police Department has been made aware of a Secret Shopper scam after a resident almost fell victim to the scam late last week.

On Friday, June 11 Fairfield Police became aware of this scam when the victim reported that they were contacted by an unknown individual through text message to become a secret shopper. The victim responded and signed up to become a secret shopper, at which point they were sent a packet in the mail including a check valued at over $2,000.

Upon receiving the check, the victim realized it was a scam and brought the check to the Fairfield Police Department.

We commend this individual for their attentiveness and for contacting the police as soon as they learned of the possible scam. Typically, scams such as this one have irreversible consequences, but due to this individual’s diligence, this situation ended positively. Anyone who believes they may have been contacted by an individual with a similar offer is encouraged to contact us immediately.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that several instances have occurred in which an individual receives a text, email or letter inviting them to work as a “secret shopper” for a “research project starting in their area.” In this scam, the recruiter would send shoppers a fake check for more than $2,000 and ask the victim to:

  • Cash or deposit the check immediately
  • Buy gift cards with most of the money
  • Keep about $450 as their pay
  • Scratch the coating off the gift cards to show the PIN codes
  • Send pictures of the cards’ front and back (with the codes) to the recruiter

Oftentimes, once a bank finds out that the check that was deposited is fake, the victim is then on the hook for the money that was spent.

The Fairfield Police Department would like to inform residents that any unknown individual who contacts them to deposit a check, withdraw money and send it to someone is most likely a scammer.

The FTC provides the following tips and information for residents to help them avoid fake check scams:

  • Don’t accept any checks or money offers from unknown individuals. Don’t accept a check for more than the selling price.
  • Never use money from a check to send gift cards, money orders, or wire money to strangers or someone you just met. Once you wire money or give someone the gift card PINs, it is like giving someone cash. It’s almost impossible to get it back.
  • Fake checks often look real and can be printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions. Sometimes, these checks may even be real checks written on bank accounts that belong to identity theft victims.
  • When the funds are made available in your account, the bank may say the check has “cleared,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a good check. Fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled.

To learn more about fake check scams, click here.

If anyone has questions or feels they have been victimized, they are encouraged to call the Fairfield Police Department at 203-254-4800 and report the scam to the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/Complaint.