I received an email from a person with a familiar name asking me to consider becoming a secret shopper. It made me suspicious, and I immediately thought it was a scam. I did some research online and confirmed those suspicions. Here's what the email read, plus tips on how to identify email scams and avoid being a victim.


This is the body of the email I received:

Mystery Shopping is a great way to start making money online or from home. Mystery shoppers or secret shoppers are hired to pose as customers and to anonymously evaluate the service they receive from a given business or an organization.

Mystery shoppers normally get paid between $200 per assignment. You are expected to complete their mystery shopping assignment and fill out an evaluation form, answer questions about your shopping experience, etc.  To start earning money immediately, reply to this email with the following  information below  :

1. Name (first/last) :
2. Address :
3. Country, State, City, zip :
4. Phones (cell/home) :
5. Age & Sex :
6. Alternative email :
7. Occupation :

Awaiting your response, Thank you.
Brad Hudson

How the Scam Works

I did a little checking online, and here's what will happen if you answer that email:

1. You'll get a recruitment email from a secret shopper service. The recruiter tells you that you have been selected for an assignment as a secret shopper in your area. You will get $200-$300 dollars and will receive a packet that will have the funds for shopping.

2. After they get your information, you will receive another email with your instructions and a USPS tracking number. In this you will be given instructions. The instructions are listed below.

  • You then will receive by mail a money order for a large amount of money. This is normally several thousand dollars. The money order looks legit. Per instructions, you are to cash this at your bank, subtract your payment ($200-$300) and then proceed to Walmart and spend $20 on any item you want.
  •  Now you are to survey you experience at Walmart. This is where the scammer is trying to gain your trust. Their goal is to make this secret shopping scam seem real so that you don’t expect anything.
  • Your next assignment is to either send the money to another secret shopper or secret shop Western Union. You are to send the remainder of your balance to the person listed in your instruction email. Once the money is sent, you are to take note of how the service was and send them back an email letting them know your survey results as well as the transaction number.
  • A few days later, or even a week later, your bank rejects the money order since they realize it is a fake and the funds are removed from your account.


Remember the old rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is just a play on many other scams. If you receive an email asking you to be a secret shopper and it looks suspicious, DELETE IT!

Legitimate  secret shopping networks will never ask for you to send back the remainder of the balance.