Voice of the consumer: Scam shortchanges mystery shopper

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette, but is about to be on maternity leave for the birth of her first child! During her absence, you'll hear from guest writers, including KKTV’s Don Ward and Dianne Derby, as well as a familiar voice for readers, retired KKTV anchor Betty Sexton.

Previous columns can be found here.

Last week, a man reached out to our 11 Call for Action team when he was tricked into thinking he landed a new job as a mystery shopper. It turns out it was just a scam, and he lost hundreds of dollars.

David told me he was excited when he got a text saying he was picked for a new job. They told him he would get to go to stores and give reviews about his shopping experience.

He got a check in the mail for nearly $2,000 with instructions on what to do. “It basically was, 'Deposit the check and go buy four $400 gift cards from Walmart,'” David said.

“I got $200 out of the $1,950, went to Walmart, bought a Walmart gift card, did what it said to do, scratch off the pin, send a picture of it to them right away,” David said. “They said, ‘OK that’s perfect.’”

David thought everything was going well until the next day when the check bounced. He went back to Walmart and found out the crooks had wiped money from the gift card. “I’m $200 in the hole,” David said. “It hurts.”

He reached out to his bank and froze his accounts to be safe. “I’m angry that I fell for it because I should have known better because if it’s too good to be true, it usually is, and this was too good to be true,” David said.

David has been a legitimate mystery shopper before. He told me there are warning signs in the letter he got that he should have picked up on.

“You’ll get a sheet similar to this, but it will have all the information that the person went over with you — who you’re shopping for, what you’re supposed to get, and you’re paid at the end, not at the beginning. So that’s another hint, I got paid up front,” David said. “That right there should have told me it was a scam.”

Click here to read the full column on gazette.com.