A Mystery Shopper Scam

Be very careful out there.

Despite assurances from the Gummint that the economic crash of 2008 is over, a lot of people are still unemployed or underemployed and are looking for ways to make a living.

Here’s a scam that I followed up with via email, just to see what’s involved. It turns out to be a new twist on the old “bogus check” scam, but this one is very well-crafted and could fool a lot of people who are not suspicious.

This is the letter I received from “Customer Impact” in Bryan, Texas:

Scam letter

Notice all the “Endorsements”… naturally all bogus. Enclosed was this evaluation form for the “Mystery Shopper” jobs:

scam form

And lastly, the bogus check. There is no such company, the check is simply printed out on a commercial form, and if you cash it and send any money to the scammers for whatever reason, your money is gone and you could be prosecuted for passing fraudulent documents. It’s happened.

scam check

NEVER send money via Western Union or Money Card or other means to someone you do not know. Just don’t.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beware of “Pet Care” texts or emails

Scam Alert-stamp

Over at a post about working over a Craigslist scammer, I got a few comments about a particular scammer that’s working the “pet care” angle. I thought I’d respond to his email address and see how it works.

I wrote to jamesbrenard1@gmail.com: “Someone said you were interested in pet care. Where are you located?”

Here how the drone responded:

Hello and how are you doing?

Glad to read from you and since you were refereed by CARE, I feel comfortable discussing this opening as it concerns the comfort of my fur babies who happens to be the only babies i have presently but hoping for that to change soon. My name is James and my wife’s name is Maha, I contacted Care i needed a Caregiver so am trusting their judgement. I am relocating to your neighborhood from Canada. I recently got a contract with a company on a private research job and i’ll be in charge. My wife is 6 months pregnant, she was in a little accident few weeks ago so am a little indisposed and this is going to be a big change in my family so we want everything to move smoothly and stress-free, so i am going to have a limited time for our fur babies and this is where i hope you come in and help.

I need someone to work 4 hours in a day for an 3 days in the week, someone that is mature whether young or old, loves pets, reliable, attentive, honest and punctual. You will be taking care of 2 Dogs, Billy a yr old Australian Terrier and Misty a 4 years old German
Shepard for any three days of your choice excluding Sundays and will have to take them on a walk at least once a week, give them a bath, brush their hair and make them comfortable while we are away. I can handle the feeding but the rest i wont be able to do, so you can work for us as long as you want. I plan on getting 2 fishes on the other hand; one is a Fancy Goldfish, while the other is an Auratus Cichlid, we’ve never had fishes but i wish to have the very best care for them so i’ll need advise on names that you think will befit them. I trust you can do this for us.

Our arrival date will be on the 28th of January and we’ll be having a face to face meet on the 29th the day after our arrival. I will be offering you $415 weekly,and also will be needing your services for 4 hours at any suitable time of yours. Bonus will be paid if there are any overtime, If you believe you are fit for this position in as much you will prove yourself to be a reliable and good person, I will instruct my financial clerk to pay for the first week before our arrival so as to secure your service in advance and to show our commitment on our part. 

My financial clerk will require this information to be able to make out a check to you;

Full Name:
Full address with Apt Number:
City, State and Zip code:
Phone number:

I await to read from you soon.

Warmest regards

Note a couple of things:

  1. This bozo has no idea where I live. Even if legitimate, he or she could be living in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I might be responding from Key West, Florida.
  2. The promise of advance payment. Anyone who “bites” would be sent a check of this nature: Secret Shopper Bogus Check
  3. The next thing that would happen is that the criminal would send too much money and ask the victim to wire a large part of it to someone else via Western Union. Of course, the check is bogus, your money is gone, and you’re on the hook to the bank for the full amount – including possibly facing criminal charges of your own for negotiating false documents. That doesn’t happen often, but some banks and police departments are anal-retentive enough that it has happened, and will probably happen more often in the future.

I sent the drone a fake name but a real address… and never heard back. I wrote back once saying “Hey, what happened? You were going to send me a check to get Pet Care started. Did you change your mind,? Should I still be looking?” but never had a response. Either he somehow twigged that he was being played for a fool, or simply had moved on to a new victim.

At any rate, watch out for this individual and any others using the same ploy.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An Open Letter to Western Union, Moneygram and Moneypak


I am beyond furious.

A loved one of mine was just scammed out of $2,000 that she can ill afford, being a recent college graduate struggling to find work and make her own way in the world.

She was stung by the “we’ll send you a check, please forward part of it to XXX for [insert reason here]” scam. She thought she was being offered a sweet job, and instead handed two grand to some scum-sucking, bottom-feeding, camel-raping lowlifes somewhere in the world.

And you are all complicit. You are confederate. You are equally guilty.

Oh, yes – I know your websites make all the right noises about never sending money to strangers, list all the scams, and provide all the required legal disclaimers. I’m here to tell you:

Watch this for the full hour. Perhaps it will sink in.

Your services are used by criminals worldwide to promote their nefarious schemes and take advantage of the gullible and the trusting with almost total impunity. And it needs to stop.

You need to be regulated in the same way as pawn shops. You need to take photographs and fingerprints of everyone who receives money from a transaction, and make this data available to law enforcement agencies, just like pawn shops.

Look at a summary of rules and regulations that the pawn industry (still thriving, in case you complain that this will put you out of business) must adhere to:

Federal rules:

  • USA Patriot Act, designed to stifle terrorism-related activities. For you, it means you can’t do any business with a pawnbroker unless you have a government-issued picture ID, like a driver’s license, and you may have to give a fingerprint
  • Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The pawnbroker has to explain to you clearly and in writing all of the terms of your loan, such as interest rate, fees, etc.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Safeguard and Privacy Rules to protect your personal information – including your name, address, phone number, and bank and credit card account numbers, etc.
  • Federal firearm laws, including record-keeping and background check requirements for buyers/sellers
    IRS rules on reporting cash transactions over $10,000

State rules:

  • Licensing and registration. In most states, pawnbrokers must apply for a license or register with a state agency – like the state consumer protection agency or state tax department. In some states, brokers need a license from the city or town where they do business
  • Interest rates and fees on loans are capped or limited in practically every state. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from 3 to 25 percent in interest on your loan. On top of that, most states let pawnbrokers charge a service fee in money (like $10) or interest (20 percent), each month
  • Records. Usually, pawnshops have to keep detailed records of everything they buy or take as collateral – serial and model numbers, brand name; precious metal type, gemstone description, etc.
  • Reporting. In some states, pawnshops have to give reports of their purchases to local police to help identify stolen goods. In other states, a shop has to honor your request to check their inventory for stolen goods if you give it a police report on your stolen property
  • Pawn tickets. If you take out a loan, the pawnbroker must give you a ticket showing what item you pawned, how long you have to repay, how much you have to repay, etc.
  • Grace periods. In some states, you’re automatically granted a grace period – usually 15 to 30 days – after your loan period expires. You have that additional amount of time to pay your loan and reclaim your property before the shop can sell your item.

You may think your army of industry lawyers and lobbyists will be enough to shield you from greater regulation designed to protect your clients, but don’t be fooled. The river of ill-gotten gains must be stopped, and you are direct participants in countless felonies.

You have been put on notice.

The Old Wolf has spoken.