Mystery shopper scam is using the name of a Memphis business
Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 8:00 pm
With a name like Axiom Research LLC, one might expect the check and accompanying offer to be a mystery shopper to be legitimate. However, consumers from coast to coast are finding out that the Memphis firm Axiom Research LLC isn’t hiring mystery shoppers and the checks they received are fake.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a new mystery shopping scam that is using the name of the Memphis research firm in an attempt to defraud the public. Axiom Research LLC in Memphis has been the victim of business identity theft. Their company’s name is being used to convince people that an offer to be a mystery shopper — accompanied by a phony check — is legitimate.
Michael Rollosson, president of Axiom Research LLC, told the BBB they weren’t hiring mystery shoppers and the checks being sent out in their name are fraudulent. “We’ve heard from people from across the country who have received the fake checks and mystery shopper solicitations,” Rollosson told the BBB. “As far as we can tell, we are the only Axiom Research LLC in the U.S., so people looking up the company name online are finding us,” Rollosson added.
The solicitation tells the unsuspecting victim that they have been selected to participate in a mystery shopping program as a consumer service evaluator of some selected merchants. The letter says that a “select few” who distinguish themselves during this initial “self-training” phase will be selected for permanent part-time positions — seemingly good news in an economy in which unemployment is still high.
Recipients of the offer are instructed to deposit the check into their bank account, withdraw the required amount to complete the shopping, and report on the service they received. A job number and password, which are required to log onto the “company’s” website to generate assignments, are included in the information, along with an evaluation form stamped “Confidential.” Recipients are directed to the website www.axiomresearch.net. According to Rollosson, that is not Axiom Research LLC’s website, but a sign-in page that links to the scammers’ website.
“Using the name of a legitimate company is a common ploy of scammers,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB president. “In this case, the company whose identity has been misappropriated is actually in the research business, which makes the mystery shopping offer even more believable.”
BBB tips to avoid being the victim of a mystery shopping scam:
Be wary of any mystery shopping offer that:
• Sends an unsolicited check
• Asks the receiver to wire money back to the business or to an individual
• Is postmarked from another country, especially Canada
• Requires a fee
Be cautious of opportunities that offer large sums of money for simple tasks like cashing a check or wiring money. Mystery shopping will not make you rich; at best, it will provide part-time income.
Look for reputable mystery shopping firms that:
• Qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations.
• Enjoy a good reputation with their clients and shoppers.
• Do not charge a fee to complete an application.
Avoid falling for claims that guarantee a position, without training.
Visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website at www.mysteryshopping.org/shoppers for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities. Contact the companies, not the MSPA, directly, for more information on how to become a shopper.
Check out any unsolicited offer with the BBB at (901) 759-1300 or (800) 222-8754.
Remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Residents who believe they have been the victim of a mystery shopping scam are advised to:
• Contact the local BBB at (901) 759-1300 or 800-222-8754 or email the BBB at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Contact the state’s Attorney General in Tennessee by calling (901) 545-5900 or going to www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
• File a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
• If the offer came through the mail, contact the U.S. Postal Inspector at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MailFraudComplaint.aspx.
• If the receiver sent money to Canada, contact the Canadian Fraud Centre at (888) 495-8501, (888) 654-9426 or email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.25.12