Mystery Shopper Money Transmission Scam

Date Posted: 
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received a complaint from a Washington consumer against a scammer that utilized a fictitious mystery shopper assignment to convince the consumer to deposit a fraudulent check into a consumer’s bank account and then send some of the funds deposited to the scammer or to a third party. It appears that this consumer may have been a victim of a money transmission scam.

The scammer reportedly requested that the consumer:

  1. Deposit a $2,640 check drawn on Palisades Federal Credit Union into her bank account.
  2. Complete a mystery shopper assignment.
  3. Retain $300 for the assignment.
  4. Send the remaining funds, via money transmission, to Jennifer Shelton in Kentucky.

The consumer reported depositing the check, completing the assignment, and sending the funds as instructed; however the consumer later received notification from her banking institution that the check was fraudulent.

The phone number 682*301*5233 was reportedly used by the scammer to contact the consumer.

Palisades Federal Credit Union, NMLS #784941 has posted a warning to consumers on its website regarding this scam that uses fraudulent credit union checks with its logo and credit union information. The scam warning can be found by visiting www.palisadesfcu.org/home/mystery-shopper-scam.

DFI warns Washington consumers not to send money to someone they do not know or trust if the circumstances are unusual and the person requests money in advance or because of a claimed emergency. Once money has been sent by a money transmitter and it is received by the person to whom the consumer instructed it be sent, the money cannot usually be returned. Consumers should:

  • Stay informed about current scams involving money transfers. (See below.)
  • Never send money to someone that has provided the consumer with a payment by check and is asking the consumer to then send money back to them.
  • Make sure that the company or person that they are sending to is legitimate.
  • Contact the money transmitter immediately if the consumer believes that they have been scammed.
  • When sending money, verify that the money transmitter is licensed. Consumers can use the “Verify a License” feature on DFI’s website at www.dfi.wa.gov to make sure that a money transmitter is licensed to conduct business in the state of Washington.
  • Not provide any personal information, such as social security number or bank account number or access if the company is not licensed or authorized to conduct business.

Important Information for All Consumers

  • If you feel you have been the victim of a scam you can contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or online at www.consumerfinance.gov.
  • If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other personal information, you may be a victim of identity theft. You can contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus to take appropriate precautions. The FTC has information for victims of identity theft online at www.ftc.gov.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet you can contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, you can contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.
  • Keep informed about common scams. Visit www.consumer.ftc.gov and click on “Scam Alerts” for information about recent scams.
  • If you live in another state, go to this webpage to find the regulator in your home state. http://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/consumer/Pages/AgencyContacts.aspx.