CLINTON, Iowa-- A Clinton woman has a warning for people looking for seasonal employment online. Crooks are using a reputable job site to find their next victim in the Secret Shopper Scam.
It happened to Sue Keister in the beginning of December, a time with holiday joy and generosity, but now she remembers it as a time filled with greed and deception.
It started when Sue was looking for a part time job online using LinkedIn. She got a bite.
A man identified himself as Tim. And he wanted Sue to be what he called his "personal shopper." Tim told Sue he would send her a check. She gave him her address, and he mailed it to her house in Clinton, $2,490 paid out to her.
She was then instructed to cash the check and go shopping for Tim. He wanted her to buy iPhone 11 Pros. Once the phones were mailed back to Tim, he said she would get paid $300 per transaction up to $1,200 a week.
But Sue never went shopping because when she went to cash the check at the bank, she found out it was fake.
"This crook's ultimate goal was to have Sue cash this check, go out and buy as many iPhone 11 as she could, and send them somewhere, and do it quickly enough so this check would bounce back," explains scam expert and head of Clinton's Seniors vs. Crime, Randy Meier. "By that time the purchases are made, she's left holding a bad check."
It's a simple concept that usually works.
"It's a quick way to get money before it bounces back, yes. Secret Shopper is one of the less common scams. It's an oldy but a goody. It's been around a long time," says Meier.
A simple concept and it has a victim pool at the ready.
"Literally your victims are putting themselves out there announcing to you they're looking for a job. You don't have to look for victims, they're right there for you," says Meier.
But don't fall for it.
"Anytime anybody advances the notion to you that you need to buy something or you need to take a check and send it somewhere, that's going to be a scam," says Meier.
It's a scam that quickly turned into Sue's nightmare before Christmas.
"I'm basically keeping my guard up," says Sue.