You can now report internet scams/attempted scams online with Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
All emails from us come from addresses ending in @mystery-shoppers.co.uk - if someone contacts you from a different address, it isn't us.
Genuine companies will use a company email address. If someone contacts you from an account with Hotmail or Gmail etc, they are unlikely to be a genuine company.
We only send emails to shoppers who have registered with us - if you didn't register on our database, we won't email you.
We do not pay our shoppers through Western Union, and we never ask them to transfer money with Western Union.
If you are asked to bank a cheque, it's likely to be a scam.
No genuine mystery shopping company would trust someone they don't know with a large sum of money as an advance - if you are contacted and offered a large payment in advance, this is likely to be a scam.
If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably will be - mystery shopping does not normally pay large amounts, so if you are offered £100 to conduct a basic enquiry it is very unlikely to be a genuine assignment.
If you apply for non mystery shopping work on a job site, and are then told that the vacancy is filled but there is mystery shopping work available as an alternative, this is likely to be a scam.
If you receive a mystery shopping scam email, forward it to us at Shopper.Support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk and we can add the sender to our list on this page (see below).
Here are a couple of links which give a bit more information on scams
http://www.mysteryshoppersmanual.com/category/mystery-shopper-scam (a USA based site but a lot of the information applies to the UK too)
http://marketing-shoppers.com - This website is made up of content stolen from our website, including information about our Managing Director, Paul Grafton. Please note that we are in no way associated with this company, and have not given them permission to use any of the content from our website. If you are contacted by anyone from this organisation, please beware that it is likely to be a scam. The scam site includes a link to the sign-up form - you should NOT register to become a mystery shopper with this site. They refer to themselves as Retail Shopper, Retails Shoppers, Retail Shoppers Ltd and Marketing Shoppers.
http://retailauditing.com This company is offering people 'Trial Assignments', which involve signing up to a free trial of a service online such as Netflix or LoveFilm, or free credit reports. You are asked to mystery shop the service as a test of your mystery shopping abilities, and told that if your assignment is used you will be paid a generous fee. In order to sign up to a free trial for services such as LoveFilm, you normally have to provide your bank or credit card details even though they don't charge you. The company will send you a sign-up link to use, and they are skimming your payment details via this link and will then take money from your account. Be warned these scammers are very clever, they even have warnings about mystery shopping scams in their emails!
People are being sent text messages from TheMysteryShoppers, inviting people to email them (at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and various variations of this email address) about mystery shopping assignments. If you receive a text message from a company you have not registered with, ignore it - reputable companies do not recruit new shoppers by sending text messages to members of the public.
Mystery Shoppers Ltd has been tipped off that scammers are using the reputable sites 'Gumtree' and 'Career Builder' to lure members of the public into signing up with them under the pretence of cashing fraudulent cheques for Mystery Shopping services. Not all advertisements for Mystery Shopping assignments on job sites are scams, but please read our advice at the top of this page on spotting scams.
We have been hearing a great deal about a company called the UK Mystery Shopper Employment Agency. We suspect them to be a scam as they charge a registration fee which then gives you access to a list of mystery shopping companies. These are mostly American and Canandian companies, as well as a few UK ones. This information can be obtained from Google at no cost at all. They don't have any contact information on the website, your only form of contact with them is by email but even then you are just sent automated responses back. Reputable mystery shopping companies do not charge a fee to register.
Please be aware that there is currently a scam in the UK, US and Canada which works like this: they ask you to carry out one or more assignments and say they will fund you in advance. BUT the funding they use is a money order or cheque for more than the cost of carrying out the assignments. They ask you to send them the surplus money after deducting your shopper fee. After doing so, your bank will find that the money order/cheque was fraudulent and you will be left out of pocket. This type of scam is known as the ‘Advance Fee’ fraud.
Some of the names being used by scammers pretending to be us are:
None of these people are associated with Mystery Shoppers Ltd.
Email addresses have been used recently to send scam emails:
If you are in any doubt regarding an email appearing to be from us please forward it to us at Shopper.Support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk and we'll let you know if it's us or not.
I've been sent your details from Taylor and Smith and I wanted to make sure I answered any questions you have before we take things further, so apologies if this email is a bit long! Please make sure you read and fully understand everything below before progressing.
I've fast tracked you to the trial assignment stage to save time but I wanted to make it clear exactly what we do before we go ahead as there's often a lot of confusion surrounding mystery shopping. Please read the following information carefully.
We will not offer you work ourselves. Rather, we will ask the best candidates to take part in a trial assignment. After you successfully complete the trial, if we judge your questionnaire/interview to be of sufficient quality, we pass your details on to a selection of our clients who we feel are appropriate for you, e.g. ones with available positions in your area. Each client can then make a decision about employing you based on factors such as the quality of the responses in your questionnaire/interview, your demographics and so on.
Once you've successfully completed a trial assignment you can also use us as a reference. You can use us as a reference when applying for any job but it's mainly aimed at, and useful for, helping you get mystery shop work.
How to use us as a reference will be explained once you complete your trial. We'll also email you with details of agencies with available positions at regular intervals.
You should be able to answer most questions you might have by looking through the FAQ on our website. We also have a trial FAQ answering common questions about trial assignments at http://retailauditing.com/trialfaq.
You should read through the trial FAQ before going ahead. We value independence and self-motivation in our mystery shop candidates so try your best to answer your own questions by reading our materials before asking.
We have a lot of people apply because the positions are well paid and interesting so we can pick and choose to some extent.
Before we go ahead I just want to draw your attention to something that's quite important in our industry. We feel it is in our and your best interests to keep you fully informed and you should know that the mystery shopping industry has suffered in the past from being associated with scams. These scams are quite rare nowadays so I don't mean to put you off but you should be aware of their existence.
These schemes involve the scammer sending a cheque to you. They then ask you to "mystery shop" a money transfer service, such as the untraceable Western Union service, to send the money, minus your pay for the assignment, to them. It all seems legitimate but a week or so later, when the cheque bounces, you are left out of pocket, possibly to the tune of thousands of pounds.
Rather than offer you mystery shop positions ourselves we, with your agreement, pass your details on to our clients, who are mystery shop and promotional staffing agencies with positions available, as well as giving you agency contact details. Therefore we ourselves would never have the opportunity to take you in with such a scam. We also do our homework on the agencies we send your details to, making sure they are legitimate names in the industry and will not scam you. However, despite this, you must take responsibility for looking out for yourself as well so follow these few simple tips to stay safe:
- NEVER accept an assignment to mystery shop a money transfer service.
- It is normal for you to spend cash when mystery shopping a shop, or use your bank card when mystery shopping an ecommerce store or an online service. You should, however, be paid an allowance up front if you are required to spend any money during your assignment.
- NEVER accept a cheque where you must send a portion of the money back again (talk to your bank if you suspect you're being targeted by a cheque cashing scammer).
From time-to-time we receive a worried email from someone who is concerned about a mystery shopping position they have been offered. We also occasionally receive emails from people wondering if we are somehow going to scam them out of money. We will never ask you to send us money or cash any cheques and our service is provided at no cost to you. We will only ever ask you to complete a trial assignment and pass on the results and your details to our clients.
In the interests of full disclosure we would like to inform you that in some cases we may receive a fee or payment for you completing an assignment, trial or for passing your details on to a company looking for new mystery shoppers - this allows us to offer our service without charging you anything. But we will NEVER ask for or take any money from you.
With all that said, mystery shopping is a great job. Scams are rare nowadays and most people have long and happy careers without ever experiencing one. And if you follow the rules above then you can have peace of mind that you are unlikely to be targeted.
So if that hasn't put you off then let's go ahead!
I've set up a trial assignment for you. Officially the trial is unpaid but if we decide to use any quotes from your questionnaire/interview then you'll be paid 50 pounds. We require you to carry out a trial before we pass your details on to our clients looking for mystery shoppers or send you details of agencies with positions available. This is to ensure that you are able to provide a quality interview/questionnaire, that you can follow instructions and that you don't require too much input from us in the form of questions, cancellations of assignments, etc.
To begin, I'm going to need you to make a choice from the available trial assignments. To do that go to http://www.retailauditing.com/trialchoices
and select your preferred choice, then enter your details in the web form.
Try to get it done today or tomorrow as we have quite a lot of people interested. We offer you a choice because for your trial we only want you to use a service that you "would have used anyway" even if we had not introduced you to it - i.e. you shouldn't mystery shop a service you aren't interested in. They are all either free services or free trials of services so that you don't have to spend any money. If you use a free trial of a service then you are not required to go on to use a paid version of the service after the trial. I've explained each choice below. Once you've made your choice you then need to enter your details in the form and choose whether you'd prefer a telephone interview or online questionnaire. When you're registered our system will send you a confirmation email to protect against spam and once you've clicked the link in that email you'll get an email explaining the next step.
Here are the options we've currently got available:
Option A - Mystery Shop a Streaming/DVD Service
For this option you will be shopping a national brand such as Netflix, LoveFilm or Sky NowTV. Such services let you choose from either online streaming of videos to your computer/smartTV or DVD rental, or a combination of both streaming and DVD rental. They allow you to watch films and TV shows on demand, and sometimes also allow you access to games. You will use a free trial of whichever service you are assigned so that you do not have to pay to use it. If you have already used a free trial of the service you are assigned then you will not be able to use a free trial.
Also, you will not be able to select which of the three brands you are assigned. This means that if you currently use one of these services, or have in the past at your current address, you should not select this option.
If you are assigned this option then you must actually use the service , i.e. you must watch some videos, and should be interested in streaming films, DVDs, etc. You'll then be asked for your opinions on the service in the form of either a questionnaire or telephone interview. You should select this option if you are interested in watching films and TV shows at home. You should not select this service if this is of no interest to you.
It is estimated that this assignment will last 2 to 3 weeks.
Option B - Compare Credit Report Services
If you are assigned this task then you will compare two websites that both give you free trial access to your credit report. You will be required to access your credit report on two different services and then compare your experiences with them via questionnaire/interview, e.g. comparing ease of use, etc. We will not ask you to show us your credit reports - they are confidential.
You should select this option if you are interested in seeing your credit report or knowing your credit score - which is important in determining if you can get a loan/mortgage, being accepted for jobs and in renting properties. This is a shorter task and the assignment is likely to last 1 to 2 weeks.
Those are the choices currently available. After you've registered your trial choice you'll be sent an email with further info that should hopefully explain anything I've missed out. Also, if you're not comfortable with anything then no worries, mystery shopping isn't for everyone, just shoot me an email back and I'll cancel the trial for you. I'm going to be out of the office for several days but I'll pick it up when I get back.