Police alert over mystery shopper scam
Police warned the public today about a mystery shopper scam circulating on social media.
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said that offers to act as a secret shopper were often made on Facebook as well as through e-mails, WhatsApp and text messages.
He explained: “In the mystery shopper scam, persons are invited to sign up for employment as a secret shopper by fake research companies and enticed by the opportunity of earning money for evaluating local shops.
“In the latest version, persons have been given instructions to check out businesses to ensure they are adhering to Covid-19 guidelines.
“Persons who respond to the offer are asked to open up a Butterfield Bank account or asked for account information if they already have one.
“They will then receive deposits of between $1,500 and $5,000 into their personal bank account and are informed that they are allowed to keep a portion as payment for their mystery shopper services.”
The police spokesman warned that the money was often obtained through crime.
He added: “Lately, scammers have been accessing local bank accounts and stealing funds to deposit into accounts of anyone who responds to the secret shopper offer.
“Anyone deceived by this scam is unknowingly being used to launder criminal proceeds.
“The public should be suspicious of any messages received from survey and research companies, particularly LOTUS Survey and Research LLC and Studebaker Survey Research Group LLC, although the name of the company may vary.”
The spokesman said that other key signs of the scam included that recruiters send cash immediately, “shoppers” are asked to buy gift cards with most of the money and are told to keep about $450 pay.
He added that people who fall prey to the scam could be asked to scratch off the coating on a gift card to show the PIN code and to send pictures of the card.
Inspector Derricka Burns, of the Specialist Crime Unit, said: “Should you be approached to do these things, be aware, it is a scam.
“We urge that should you receive such an offer, do not respond.
“Local banks are already vigilant for this suspicious activity and are likely to freeze the assets of any account found to be involved in the mystery shopper scam.”
*Any incidents of suspected fraud should be reported to the Financial Crime Unit on 247-1757 or by e-mailing Group-FCU@bps.bm.
*Advice on how to avoid and report scams can also be found at www.gov.bm/how-avoid-and-report-scams.