BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Have you ever heard of someone being sent money to act as a secret shopper at Walmart?
No? That’s because it doesn’t exist. It’s a scam.
Linda De Simone was almost a victim. De Simone says she received two checks, one on October 1 and the other on October 8, with instructions from Walmart calling her a secret shopper and telling her what to do with the checks.
In the letter, De Simone was asked to deposit checks that were over four thousand dollars into her bank account and buy eight $500 Walmart VISA gift cards. She was also asked to text a number as soon as she had the money and complete the assignment as soon as possible.
“I wish this were real but I know it would drain me and my bank account if I followed through,” she said.
And she would be right.
Since the check is fake, it is returned to your bank account as an insufficient fund, and you become responsible to the bank for the entire check, according to Walmart.
How the scam works
Walmart says the scam artist sends a letter or email describing the position in which you will evaluate customer services at other retail stores. These stores do not have any affiliation with whoever sent the ad.
De Simone says the letter she received came in a United States Postal Service Priority Mail envelope with a return address of City Business Inc, 225 E 9th Street, Los Angeles Cal 90015.
Letter courtesy of Linda De Simone
After responding, you will get a packet with employee information such as your assignment, a list of products to buy, and a “cashier’s check”. The assignment is to deposit the check into your account, pretend to be a shopper and then use the Money Gram to send the balance to an address.
“I called the number listed on the letter and through a text I received today and it is a foreign language,” she said.
When she tried to look up the address, a Los Angeles shipping services website came up.
Walmart says personal bank account information is sometimes required. As soon as the company puts the deposit in your account to perform the secret shopper tasks, you become a victim of identity theft.
Walmart doesn’t use this service at all.
Signs of fraud to look out for
- Walmart says the letters are associated with fictional departments or branding initiatives with letters or emails coming from addresses that appear to be “Wal-Mart” or an address such as “email@example.com
- Walmart does not mail you a check and asks that you deposit it in order to purchase an item or service and keep the remainder of the amount as payment for services
De Simone says she has notified the Better Business Bureau.
“I’m just glad that I didn’t fall for it,” she said.
On Oct. 17, De Simone said she received an apology from the shipping company which told her that someone else is using their name and address to commit fraud. Read the full statement below.
We apologize for this. Someone is using our business name and the return address for one of our locations to commit Fraud. They are sending counterfeit Checks & Money Orders attached to a Walmart letter. We have received dozens of returned letters that were not sent by us.
We have alerted our local USPS representative in Los Angeles. We have also have contacted the United States Secret Service (they handle USPS Fraud).
We are a shipping company based in Los Angeles and have been operating for 27 years. We would never do anything like this.
Please return the letter to your local post office or USPS carrier. Or simply destroy it.
Best Regards,Richard Palma, City Business Shipping Inc
De Simone says she has shredded everything.