Mystery Shopper, Secret Shopper, Under Cover Restaurant Reviewer

What Ever you call it, the real mystery is how can these scams keep on going.

We debated for a while about if we should cover this topic, but like the real estate seminars, there are a lot of people loosing money on these schemes.  They have something in common.  There is a bit of truth to the story–real mystery shoppers do exist along with people who have made millions in real estate.  And they are both stories we want to believe.  Without formal training you can have a great time shopping in upscale stores or eating in restaurants that you could not normally afford.  You get to keep what you buy for free, and you get paid for your time.  The idea is that these high end stores are run by big corporations in New York and they need to know how customers are being treated where you live.  They need an independent source to verify that customers are being treated well, the stores are clean, and that inventory is available for customers to buy.  So they will hire people with no experience to get a perspective from the customer’s standpoint.  Sounds too good to be true.

We found this story by Rick Romero which basically explains how one type of the scam works.

He gave these tips which seem obvious, but may not be when you are excited about the possibly of getting paid to do what you love.

  • Legitimate mystery shopper companies do not advertise for jobs with fliers on telephone poles, unsolicited emails or telemarketing calls.
  • Be wary of a company that guarantees you a job as a mystery shopper.
  • Never pay a fee to apply or to obtain a job.
  • Don’t ever wire money to the company that is supposedly hiring you.

The only additional thing we would ad is that you should not give these people your credit card, debit card, bank account number even if they say they need it to pay you back for spending money on shopping or dining.  Also, they should be paying you, you should never have to send money back to the company.  They may send you a legit looking check or money order and have you give back part of it because it is an over payment.  The way it works is that they will get the money you sent back before what they sent you has bounced out of your account.  This is an old scam which we will not go into because we don’t want to let people know how to commit fraud.

The website of the company Rick describes as legitimate in his story is .   Clark Howard says is a legit company on his website.  The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has suggested that you go to which is an organization of legit mystery shopping programs

SCCA also provided this video which basically goes over the same stuff above, but it is worth repeating because so many people have been taken in by these scams.


Taking Surveys for money

Another way people are geting involved is by taking survey for cash.  From what we understand there are a legit companies, but there are some people trying to pull off scams.  So the warnings listed above still apply.  The thing is that you shouldn’t expect to make a lot of money from this.  There are also some people selling inside secrets and tips to help you make big money by taking surveys.  We haven’t checked any of these out, but again, we would suggest that you not send in any money.

One site that we ran across is which people have said actually pays you money.


© 2012