This is a topic you see every week on TV Court shows where someone gets a big check, tricks a friend into cashing it, and then it bounces a week later.
What keeps people hooked is, SURPRISE, the there really are secret shoppers!
I investigated this several years ago by applying and becoming a secret shopper entirely over the internet. It was a 100% legitimate operation.
What made that secret shopper “job” different was the way it operated.
First, they required me to take various training sessions and pass tests before giving assignments. Every major retailer and fast food place has specific things they want you to test.
Second, they didn’t require any bank or Social Security information until AFTER I had completed shopping surveys and they had paid me.
Third, they didn’t pay much – just a couple dollars for travel and for the items or food I was told to purchase.
NO ONE, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE will be offering anyone other than full-time staff tasks involving buying any expensive item. They would have to be morons to do so.
Being a secret shopper is NOT a way to make money, it IS a way to have some fun if you like shopping, cover some of your expenses on a trip to the mall, and you normally get to eat the meal or keep the small item you purchased.
I’m not big on malls or shopping of any sort other than online shopping so I didn’t continue being a secret shopper any longer than necessary to be certain that particular company was legitimate.
Secret Shopper scams are easy to spot.
First, these and most similar scams such as work-at-home gimmicks promise lots of money with little or no work.
Second, they send money up front in the form of a check or money order and ask you to either buy small but expensive items such as electronics and send those to them (almost always out of the country), or cash the check, and send them some of the money.
A basic rule for evaluating any online offer is to ask yourself if it actually makes any sense for them to hire you at a high salary to do something which other, often more qualified people, willingly do for free.
And, as with work-at-home offer online or by mail, if it seems too good to be true, it is – just as it is with politicians.