This is 100% a scam, right?

So I got this email from Survey Monkey, which as far as I know is a credible site. “Make $200 being a Walmart secret shopper”. Huh. So I took the bait and gave em my home address.

So I get the “secret shopper package” in the mail today. Thing is in a priority mail express 1-day envelope. Oddly enough for the scammers, it appears to be a legitimate postage tag - which means the scammers are so sure this is going to work, they spend more than $20 of their own money per scam victim. Ah. I think I see how they did it. It says is the payer of the 1 day postage label, so these guys are probably scamming either the post office or they paid for the label with a stolen credit card. The tracking number doesn’t work.

It contains a letterand a check.

Blatant scam. There is a cashier’s check I am supposed to cash, “at my bank”, and then I’m supposed to wire $1000 to a shady sounding name in the same town. I have just 48 hours to do this…and obviously the check will be returned with insufficient funds, leaving me out $1000.

I thought cashier’s checks were supposed to be protected against this, where the bank itself is guaranteeing the check. Guess not.

Yes, 100%.

The Houston PD may be interested, though.

You cash the check and wire the $1000 and keep the $200. A couple of days later the check bounces and you owe the bank $1200 plus any bouncing charges. You are out at least $1000 and the crooks are $1000 richer minus the few bucks mailing you the package.

If it costs them $20 per potential victim and only 1 in 5 take the bait, they are still making $900 for every $100 spent.

Many scams involve fake cashier’s checks.

I received one once. Looked real enough, but the sender seemed sketchy. I called the issuing bank. They informed me that the check was fake.

Only if it’s real.

I suspect the crooks might have hand-delivered the envelope to my mailbox, saving them the $25. Ironically, postage fraud like that is probably a worse crime than the attempt to steal $1000. This would explain why the tracking number is invalid, and why the crook receiving the money is also in Houston.

So, couldn’t I call the issuing bank and find out if the check is real? I am so certain it’s fake I don’t really want to take the time, but could I do so?

Oh, another detail I spotted - the recipient’s name is “Max Monday”. The check’s issuing date was Monday. Must be a way for the scammers to keep track of which scam series they are running today…

Of course.

Yes, you could call the purported issuing bank, but if it’s some oddball little bank you’ve never heard of, there’s a better than zero chance that the bank itself is phony, or it may be a real bank, but the address or phone number go to the scammers.

I’ve done a few mystery shop gigs in my time. Every time I did, the process was that I paid for the product with my own money, and then faxed/emailed a receipt along with my report, after which they sent me a check for the price of whatever it was they’d wanted me to purchase, plus whatever little freebie they were tossing in as the incentive to do the shop (a free pizza, or a $10 gift card, something like that).

Being sent an excessively large check with instructions to wire most of it to a third party is, of course, something that makes no sense. But you already know that.

But you ARE going to deposit the check, aren’t you?

No, because I’ll get hit with a returned check fee when it bounces.

Go to your local post office and ask to speak to the postmaster; they take fraud committed using the US Mail very seriously.

See if the issuing “bank” if it exists will cash it for you.

One of my son’s friends were taken in by this. There are few guarantees in life, but I absolutely guarantee this is a scam.

One possible action that’s been neglected so far: if Survey Monkey is indeed a “credible site,” they might like to know that they’re complicit in some serious fraud…

The bank could tell you if they issued a check for that amount and with that serial number. They can’t tell, without looking at the check, whether you have the real copy of that check.

From the Walmart website, info on the Walmart Secret Shopper Scam

What’s with the weird spacing on “two signatures required” and “authorized signature” part.

Please tell me they at least used real check paper and that there is actual microprintingg on the border of the check (hard to tell from photo - as microprinting should look like a line when copied or photographed). The contrast looks like it might say something, but not sure.

Yes - as others have mentioned - and you seem to know - this is obviously a scam.

Besides the normal hallmarks:

  1. Why on earth would a company from California use a Houston credit union?
  2. Why would you be sending money to someone in the same town?
  3. Why would their letter head stationary number be a cell phone that you can text?

The odd thing is that the Houston thing is probably a coincidence.

The check probably has the real routing number - and you probably live close enough where you could go to one of their branches - if it is a real bank. I’m not sure how things work nowadays, but in the past - stuff took longer to clear if it was farther away.

So the fact that you are in the same city - means it should - or would have - bounced pretty quickly.

As far as the postage goes - did you actually get it in one day? I’m pretty sure companies are faking express envelopes. Does it actually say USPS express mail or was it just red and blue and said fancy sounding language similar to it.

I know when I go on the Post Office website - I can choose to print postage without the value showing. I’m assuming all they care about is the bar code. I could probably print any amount on there I wanted to (afterwards) and I doubt anyone would notice, care, and it might not even be illegal (to misstate the amount you paid for postage. - but I wouldn’t bet on it).

Anyone bother to look at the image of the check?

Smart Financial Credit Union is not a bank.

Contact your postmaster as soon as possible. The postal inspectors live for this kind of scam.