Florence Police investigate secret shopper scam

Florence Police investigate secret shopper scam

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The Florence Police Department wants the community to be aware of a scam going on that could lead to money loss or legal trouble.

A man, who wishes to remain unidentified, had seen an advertisement for a mystery shopper position online. He emailed the contact person then received an envelope in the mail with instructions and a check for $2,795.

He was told to cash the check at a bank and evaluate the cashier's performance. Then, he was instructed to buy $2,500 worth of green dot prepaid cards from a convenience store and evaluate that store's performance as well.

The scam comes when the person sends the prepaid cards back to the address and then the bank realizes the original check was counterfeit.

"At some point it's going to get to a location where they're going to say, 'Hey, this isn't real. It's counterfeit,'" said Major Carlos Raines, of the Florence Police Department. "They're going to send it back to the bank that negotiated it and they're going to look at the person who brought it in and cashed it to get their money back."

Although a victim of a scam, that person has to fork over the funds or face a range of legal consequences.

In this case, the man turned the check over to the Florence Police Department for investigation before trying to cash it.

"He became suspicious himself, which was very, very smart on his part," Major Raines said.

It's nearly impossible to catch the scanners themselves, Major Raines said.

"These people are here today, gone tomorrow and the account numbers fall into the same situation," he said.

Using common sense is the best way to avoid the hoax. You can contact a bank or law enforcement to investigate if you find something is suspicious.

Also, Reuben Hewitt, of First Reliance Bank in Florence, recommends not cashing or withdrawing funds from a check until the hold is taken off of it, meaning it cleared and isn't counterfeit.

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