Mystery Shopper Scam Strikes Again, FTC Reports

if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Mystery Shopper Scam Strikes Again, FTC Reports
Image: NCCC
February 19, 2014

It sounds pretty good: you walk into a store like any other customer. Then 20 minutes later, you're done, ready to write a report that will earn you $50. And then you can do it again.

don't believe the hype

If Shopper Systems and some companies like it were to be believed, mystery shopping jobs like this were not only widely available, but could generate "insane profit." All for just $2.95 for training and a week's trial, then $49.95 a month after that for an up-to-date list of interested retailers — and you'd be free to cancel any time.

But they couldn't be believed, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says. According to the FTC's complaint, people who paid to be mystery shoppers found that there were few, if any, jobs in their area. And the jobs that did exist paid a lot less than $50. People who tried to cancel found that they were still charged $49.95 a month, not knowing they were also enrolled in a second "opportunity" running their own webstore.

ftc settlement

The companies and people behind the alleged scam have agreed to settlements with the FTC that ban them from selling business or work-at-home opportunities and require them to surrender their assets.

Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities are out there, but so are plenty of scams. Don't pay to be a mystery shopper — information about mystery shopping jobs should be free, and certifications offered are often of little value. Many professionals in the field consider mystery shopping a part-time activity, at best, and opportunities generally are posted online by marketing research or merchandising companies.

Learn more about these kinds of scams and get tips on finding legitimate mystery shopping jobs.