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Chief scam alert: 'Don't fall for this'

By Jebb Johnston jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

If $450 sounds too good to be true as payment for a little bit of secret shopping, that's because it is.

Police Chief Ralph Dance has received reports in the last few days of local residents receiving in the mail a variation on the old "secret shopper" scam in the form of a customer service evaluation survey.

The mailing contains a realistic looking cashier's check made out to the recipient and instructions involving the purchase of eBay gift cards.

"We want to get the word out to people that this is a scam," said Dance. "They are asking for you to send money. Don't fall for this."

As a general rule, according to the Federal Trade Commission, anytime anyone asks a person to deposit a check and then wire or send money in any way, it's going to be a scam.

The letter landing in mailboxes locally tells the recipient to "have fun, make money and help us improve customer service on a Global level." It asks the recipient to confirm receipt of the mailing by text message or e-mail.

The check is for $2,450.52, and the recipient is asked to deposit it and to keep $450 as payment.

The "assignment" involves going to a local store, purchasing eBay cards totaling $2,000 and evaluating the purchase experience. The recipient is asked to scratch off the covered numbers on the card and send a photo of the card to an e-mail address, which enables the scammer to use the gift cards.