June 22, 2012 - Memphis TN -
The BBB recently warned consumers about a mystery shopping scam that was using the name of Axiom Research LLC
in Memphis TN in an attempt to defraud the public. Another round of fake offers is using the name of Summerfield Associates, Inc.,
a professional recruiting and personnel services consulting firm located in Memphis.
Dotty Summerfield Giusti, president of Summerfield Associates
, told the BBB they weren't hiring mystery shoppers and the checks being sent out in their name are fraudulent. "People from across the country are contacting us about checks they've received," Giusti told the BBB. "We are not hiring mystery shoppers and want to let the public know that the checks they are receiving are fake,"Giusti added. "They have our name and logo on them, but they aren't from us."
The solicitation follows the typical mystery shopping scam protocol. The recipients are instructed to deposit the checks, with draw the required amount to complete the secret shopping of a Western Union location and report on the service they received. At lest some of the recipients of the fake checks responded to an unsolicited email inviting them to participate in a business evaluation survey. Once they responded to the email, fraudulent check bearing Summerfield Associates'
name was sent via mail.
"Scammers often use the name of a legitimate company to make their pitch seem more believable," said Randy Hutchinson, BBB president. "This is the second case we've seen recently in which the nature of the company's business makes the ploy even more believable. Summerfield Associates
does recruit and place personnel, so it's not that much of a stretch to believe that they might be looking for mystery shoppers."BBB Tips to Avoid Being the Victim of a Mystery Shopping Scam:
- Be wary of any mystery shopping offer that:
- Sends you an unsolicited check
- Asks you to wire money back to the business or to an individual
- Is postmarked from another country, especially Canada
- Requires a fee
- Be cautious of opportunities that offer large sums of money for simple tasks like cashing a check or wiring money. Mystery shopping will not make you rich: at best, it will provide part-time income.
- Look for reputable mystery shopping firms that:
- Qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations.
- Enjoy a good reputation with their clients and shoppers.
- Do not charge a fee to complete an application.
- Avoid falling for claims that guarantee a position, without training.
- Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website at www.mysteryshopping.org/shoppers for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities. Contact the companies, not the MSPA, directly for more information on how to become a shopper.
- Check out any unsolicited offer with your BBB at 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
- Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you believe you have been the victim of a mystery shopping scam, you are advised to: