Bank customers warned over ‘mystery shopper’ scam

BANK customers have been urged to take precautions against a major internet scam after at least two dozen individuals were tricked into handing over thousands of euro in a fake “mystery shopper ” business deal.

In recent weeks individuals in Cork, Kerry, Dublin and other parts of the country have responded to a number of advertisements which appeared in provincial and national newspapers.

The adverts began in early June and claimed to be seeking people who wanted to become mystery shoppers – individuals who report back to managers on the customer support quality at their firms – for companies supposedly including the Western Union money transaction firm.

Individuals who responded to the positions received an e-mail approximately one month later claiming to outline the details of the work involved.

In the message, a person involved in the scam wrote that the first mystery shopper task was to transfer money through the Western Union in order to check the company’s customer service standards.

The correspondence stated that a cheque in excess of €2,000 would be sent to the e-mail recipient, who was to send on most of this money to a named account in London and keep the remainder of the money.

However, if someone did this they would later find that the cheque was fake and that they had inadvertently sent a large sum of their own money to an unknown individual.

At least two dozen people across the country have already been targeted by the scam, including an individual in north Cork who realised the questionable nature of the deal as he was standing in his local bank.

“I asked the staff in Bank of Ireland and they said they were 99% certain it was a scam. It’s a ludicrous plan, but some people would sign up to it,” the semi-retired man in his 50s explained.

The ads, which detailed the apparent legitimate opportunity to make money as a mystery shopper, have ceased to be published since the scam was revealed.

It is not clear exactly how many people have been duped by the scam.


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