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Secret Shopper Scam Hits Arvada

Arvada Police are warning people of a scam involving a "secret shopper" gimmick circulating through e mail.

In a case occurring in Arvada, a victim reported she was sent a check by (what she thought was) a reputable secret shopper company, and that’s where the trouble began.

How the scam operates is the victim is given a simple task, such as go to a local store to purchase an item and then return the merchandise to rate the customer service. The victim is requested to remain in contact with the scammer. Once the scammer knows the victim is willing to buy in to the scheme, the suspect gives the person instructions to conduct a wire transfer of funds from a money transfer company under the guise of rating the service.

The victim deposits the check into their own bank account, per instructions from the scammer. These checks are counterfeit; however, they contain true financial information of legitimate Unites States companies, which is how the check initially clears the bank and funds become available. The check is eventually routed to the legitimate company's bank where it's determined to be counterfeit. The check is then returned (unpaid) to the victim's bank. The victim has already withdrawn the funds to send the wire transfer, etc, so the victim's account becomes overdrawn.

Unfortunately, the person cashing the check is ultimately responsible for insufficient funds in an account.

"Criminals use an assortment of cleverly disguised scams in hopes of stealing from people who simply want to earn additional income," said Sgt. Steve Grisham in the Arvada Police Department’s Investigation’s Bureau.

Grisham adds these scams usually involve countries outside of the United States and are next to impossible for local law enforcement agencies to successfully investigate due to the distances and complexities of these phony corporations.

Senior Liaison Officer Jim Becker advises if anything HINTS at being a scam, the intended victim can call the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office Fraud Hotline at 303-271-6980 to report the information.