May 18, 2006
Jefferson City, Mo. — Consumers who respond to newspaper ads recruiting “secret shoppers” should beware of scams that could cost them hundreds of dollars, Attorney General Jay Nixon says.
The Attorney General's Office is looking into a report by a consumer who answered an ad in a Jefferson City newspaper promising cash and merchandise in exchange for evaluating customer service at restaurants and stores. The consumer told Nixon's office this week that she then received a money order for $1,300 and was instructed to keep $100 and wire the remaining $1,200 to an address in Canada, which she did. The money order was then determined to be fake.
“Con artists are increasingly using fake, but realistic-looking, money orders as part of their scams,” Nixon says. “If you receive a money order from someone you don't know who wants you to send them money to cover fees, taxes or anything else, it's a big red flag that it's a scam. These money orders have fooled some banks initially, and consumers have found themselves being out that amount.”
Nixon says his office will be working with law enforcement agencies in Canada on the matter.
The Attorney General's Office has previously received reports of this “overpayment” scam, primarily from people selling items over the Internet. The seller will receive a money order for more than the agreed to purchase price, with the buyer asking the seller to wire back the difference. Most money order scams seem to originate outside the United States, Nixon says, making it more difficult to recover money lost.
Missourians who have questions or complaints about fake money order scams or other consumer issues can contact the Attorney General's Office through the office Web site at www.ago.mo.gov or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.