Protect Yourself and Report the Latest Frauds, Scams, Spams, Fakes, Identify Theft Hacks and Hoaxes
Have you received an email or phone call from "Comparison Shopping Solutions" inviting you to be a "Comparison Shopper"; for example, from a company named Comparison Shopping Solutions? 905-462-1379 is one number they may use). They have even sent you a cashier's check to be used to make purchases at the chosen store locations. This sounds great! You get to shop, grade each store location, keep the merchandise you purchase, plus get paid a fee for your services. It must be real; they have even included a Code of Ethics disclosure! How can this be a scam? They sent you a check, want you to cash it and send the money to them via Western Union the money to them.
First of all, the check is counterfeit. You will be asked to deposit the counterfeit item into your bank account and then immediately begin your mystery shopping assignment. The majority of the funds provided to you in the counterfeit check will be wired out using a nationally-known wire service (Western Union or Money Gram), with the ploy that this is one of the merchants you are to grade.
As with the lottery scam, once the check is deemed to be counterfeit (about 10 to 21 days after you deposit the item), the check is returned as uncollected, and your bank debits your account for the full amount of the check. Since you have already spent or wired the funds out, you are now in a loss situation and left to deal with a mess, including possible arrest for passing bad checks, check fraud, etc.
The U.S. Treasury Department is warning consumers about this scam. The following banks (there may be others) have been used by the scammers:
The banks has reported that fictitious official checks were issued in the bank's name and used the bank's correct routing numbers (111910267 and 111911033, respectively) are being presented for payment nationwide in connection with the mystery shopping scam.
These items are fictitious, as the banks do not issue official checks. Checks presented to date have been made payable in varying amounts such as $3,875 and $3,950 and may include a remitter name of "CSS" Or "Comparison Shopping Solutions" Due to possible variations in appearance of the bank's official items and scams, it is suggested that officials the bank be contacted to verify authenticity of any of the bank's official items, if received from an unknown or questionable source.
The mystery shopper correspondence may contain the letterhead of "COMPARISON SHOPPING SOLUTIONS, PO Box 4800, Wildwood, NJ 08280, Tel: 1-905-920-5618, Fax: 1-888-380-8459." Note that the telephone number provided originates out of Hamilton, Ontario.
The correspondence informs the recipient that he or she has been selected to be a secret shopper for the company. It explains that the enclosed check is to be used to purchase merchandise at various nationally known merchants as well as to transfer money using a nationally known wire service. The funds to be spent at each location are broken down by a specific dollar amount, with the shopper being allotted the remaining funds as payment for their mystery shopper service. The letter may be signed by "Cathy Bradley" or other names.
For additional information and guidance and to verify the authenticity of the First National Bank of Weatherford's official items, please contact Linda Swackhammer, Compliance Officer, P.O. Box 730, 220 Palo Pinto Street, Weatherford, TX 76086, by telephone at (817) 598-4926, by fax at (817) 598-4901, or via e-mail at [ email@example.com].
See this page for more information about Mystery Shopper scams. For additional information regarding other types of financial fraud, please visit the OCC's anti-fraud resource.
Anytime a scam involves a cashier's check, official check, or money order
from a financial institution and you believe that it could be counterfeit, you
should contact the issuing bank directly to report receipt of the check and to
verify authenticity. Only the issuing bank can verify the authenticity of the
item. When contacting the bank, do NOT use the telephone number provided on the
instrument, as this number is generally not associated with the financial
institution but rather with the scam artist.
To locate a bank's contact information, you can check the FDIC's website at: http://www2.fdic.gov/idasp/main_bankfind.asp
Consumers who receive a counterfeit or fictitious item and associated material should report it or file complaints with the following government agencies, as appropriate:
Additional information concerning this matter that you believe should be brought to the attention of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) may be forwarded by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by mail to
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Special Supervision Division, MS 6-4
250 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20219
or Fax: (202) 874-5214
There are a variety of sleazy scams that look, at first glance, like legitimate job offers. Before you write back to them, pause a moment and read about the scams below!
Some of the more common job scams are