CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents to watch out for “secret shopper” scams.
The offer sounds like an easy way to earn a little extra money, but as the saying goes: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
The secret shopper scam typically starts with a legitimate-looking piece of mail that contains a check and instructions to evaluate stores like Walmart or CVS.
Potential shoppers are instructed to cash the check included and use the money to buy gift cards at the stores.
They are asked to evaluate the stores' customer service while buying the gift cards.
The letter instructs consumers to then send an email or text with their evaluation of the store, along with a picture of the gift card and its activation code.
But sending that info gives the scammers access to the gift card, which they can then use to make purchases.
The victim is told that their reward is getting to keep a portion of the check for helping with the “survey,” but they can't tell anyone. The problem is the check is fake and will bounce, and the consumer will have to pay the bank back for cashing a fake check.
So if you get an unsolicited letter or package in the mail that looks official from USPS Priority Mail or FedEx, check it twice.
Other advice from deputies to avoid scams:
- Don’t cash checks from unknown sources
- Don’t respond to any of the contact information
- Check the tracking numbers on the package (tracking does not reflect return address)
If you think you did receive one of these fake letters or packages, the Sheriff’s Office asked that you report it to the postal inspector.