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MYSTERY SHOPPER: Beware Of Email Scam

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'Tis the season to be scammed.  Con artists work year round, but the Iowa Attorney General's Office says scams tend to increase around the holidays.  Just ask the Corley's of Des Moines.

"She was supposed to be a mystery shopper," says George Corley of his wife, who received an email, promising her $200 simply for cashing a money order and wiring the money to another mystery shopper.

"Nobody questioned anything," says George.  Not the banks or Western Union.  The problem, the checks and money orders were fake.

"My wife’s social security check was deposited, her retirement check was deposited and her payroll check from where she works part-time was deposited.  They took it all."

The scam drained the Corley's account.

"Now we’re getting statements in the mail as to how much her account is delinquent and Wells Fargo wanting their money and we don't have any money," says Corley.

Bill Brauch, the Director of the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office says this is a new version of an age-old scam.

"It’s kind of a variant of a work at home scam," say Brauch.  "You’re at home and you either get something in the mail or you get an email telling you of this wonderful opportunity… 'you have been specially selected to be a mystery shopper.'"

Don't buy it - even if the checks and money orders look legitimate.

"They look extremely real.  They’re not real.  None of them are.  It’s always a scam."

It's also very difficult to recover your money, in part because the con-artists may be operating out of another country.  And unlike a credit card, your bank is not responsible for covering fraud.

Corley hopes by talking, he can't prevent others from becoming a victim.

"I mean there’s too much crap like this going on."

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