Warning: People are attempting to Defraud Consumers out of Money Using Confero’s Name
Aug 21, 2015 by Confero Inc.
Scammers try to take advantage of Confero’s industry-leading mystery shopping reputation to deceive consumers and jobseekers on Linkedin
Recently, Confero received information on various scams where consumers receive an email through LinkedIn from someone appearing to be sending along a job opening announcement. The recipients receive these suggestions from persons they know or are connected to on LinkedIn through groups, so they appear to be legitimate.
The LinkedIn profiles of the people sending these messages may have been hacked or they may be fake LinkedIn profiles or some combination. The scams vary, but most include a request for your personal information, including name, address and phone number to “sign up” and the promise of a high paying assignment, for example one which pays $300 shop fee.
The scammers use the names of reputable mystery shopping companies in order to win the trust of victims.
If you receive an email message from someone asking if you would like to sign up to mystery shop for Confero by emailing your person information, please do not fall for it! Please do not reply by email or contact the individual in any form.
Please do not engage in the scam to try to catch anyone. By trying to do this, scammers think the scam is working and feel emboldened to continue to act.
These scams almost always result in consumers becoming duped into a fake check scam. In fake check scams, shoppers are sent checks to deposit, and then told to wire most of the funds elsewhere and keep the difference. Ultimately, a week or two later, the check the scammer sent to the mystery shopper turns out to be worthless and the shopper is on the hook to cover the entire check with the bank. Some of the checks look quite real - so real in fact that bank tellers see them all the time and still accept them for deposit. Remember, the depositor is responsible for the value of the check being deposited – not the bank.
When consumers alert us to someone posing as an employee of Confero, we immediately post this information to our website’s Consumer Alerts section in hopes that consumers will find the information readily if they are contacted by scammers.
Confero also notifies the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about each one so they may update Confero’s profile information to warn consumers who are checking Confero’s rating that Confero has been targeted.
Confero also notices MSPA-NA (the Mystery Shopping Providers Association), the industry group comprised of reputable, legitimate mystery shopping firms. MSPA-NA issued a press release on August 19th to alert the public about the recent fraudulent occurrences targeting Confero.
Tips to Recognize this Scam:
1. Confero does not advertise mystery shopping jobs on LinkedIn.
2. Confero NEVER issues checks to mystery shoppers for any reason. Our payments to shoppers are sent via PayPal or Direct Deposit following the shop assignment.
3. Confero recruiters and schedulers do not ask for consumer’s personal or contact information via email as a first step in becoming a mystery shopper. Consumers interested in contracting with Confero as a mystery shopper complete a secure, online registration in order to register as a shopper for Confero. (If you are interested in registering with Confero as mystery shopping, please click here for information)
The fake emails forwarded throughLinkedin that consumers have shared with us appear similar to this:
Other Scam Warning Signs:
1. Unsolicited emails or messages on any social networking sites (i.e. “You have been selected!”)
2. Requests to deposit checks to your bank account and to use Western Union or another money wire service.
3. Messages with poor grammar
4. Unusually high payment offered for an assignment
In addition to these tips, please visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association for more information on mystery shopping scams and how to avoid them. For more information about the LinkedIn scams where Confero has been a victim, please visit our website’s consumer alerts page.
How to Find Reputable, Legitimate Mystery Shopping Companies
You can also visit the MSPA-NA website to learn if a mystery shopping company is reputable. The MSPA is the leading industry resource for legitimate mystery shopping companies and mystery shoppers. Many helpful resources are available to assist mystery shoppers and those who wish to become mystery shoppers, including information on reputable mystery shopping companies who are members of MSPA, and a page where you can view the names of all MSPA companies.
Be sure to follow the MSPA-NA member company’s registration/application process on their website. Remember, scammers are using the marketplace trust and experience gained by these reputable mystery shopping companies to try to dupe consumers into the fake check scam.
It is not enough to just see if the name of the company is reputable. Make sure you are dealing with that company when you apply.
For other insightful articles and resources about mystery shopping scams, read on.
This Kiplinger article points out that a common scam thread is asking mystery shoppers to pay upfront for an assignment. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides information on what legitimate mystery shopping is and what not do when considering mystery shop assignments. The site offers another helpful blog about avoiding mystery shop scams and warning signs. Asking the potential mystery shopper to cash a check or send a wire is another commonality to these scams. Mystery shoppers should also be aware of LinkedIn Scams involving universities.
Past Scammer Names:
The following names were used in the LinkedIn Scams where the person has claimed to be an associate of Confero. These associates are not employed by Confero and are not contractors with Confero:
- Will George
- Thomas Beck
- Frank Wilson
- Eric Johnson
- John Gordon
- Toby Phillips
- Lauren Smith
- George Karr
As you can see, new fake names are created on an ongoing basis, so be on the lookout for anyone on LinkedIn, claiming to be associated with our company, Confero, and asking you for your information so sign you up as a mystery shopper.
What to do if you receive an Email from a Scammer:
If you have fallen victim to this scam and lost money, please contact your local police department to report the fraud.
If you received an email mesage but did not act on it, we would appreciate knowing the names used in the message to you, if the name is different from one of the ones listed above. Please send the name to the email address info "at" conferoinc.com We use this information to warn others, through contacting the Better Business Bureau, and through posting on our Consumer Alerts section of our website.
We thank the consumers who have notified us about these scams!