I opened up the legal-sized cardboard envelope shipped to me by means of UPS. Retrieving the contents of the mystery package, I pulled out two money orders for $972.25 on the dot and a letter addressed, “Dear Shopper.”
…Once in a conversation about how exciting it would be to be a “secret shopper,” (you know, the people who get to go shopping and test out a store’s customer service while getting to keep all their purchases) one of my girl friends exclaimed how she had done it once and LOVED IT. Later on I was scrolling through my Hotmail inbox; I noticed an email from a “Secret Shopper” company that wanted people to do assignments in my area. Eager to partake in some of the mystery and jazz that my buddy had experienced, I signed up, giving my address and cell number.
Not till yesterday did I hear back- from an eight-digit number, they texted me, claiming that I should receive a package and was to complete the mission ASAP. The cryptic tone of the message sent red flags poppin’ up all over my brain. Today, the package came. Filled with many English grammatical errors, the letter instructed me to take the signed money orders to a bank and cash them. Then it directed me to go a Western Union to complete the mission transferring money, I was to pay attention to the cashier’s name that was assisting me, my arrival time at the Western Union, and other creepy details. Also, twice I’ve been called about the package and I was to receive and assignment to be carried out. On top of the sketchy letter, the signature on the money orders didn’t match the letter’s signature, or the return address on the UPS envelope.
Let’s just say things DON’T ADD UP. With the advice of people I respect, I headed to Bank of America to check on the validity of the money orders. FAKE. I told them of my situation and they made copies of the letter, return address and money orders, giving me the copies. The teller informed me that this situation was not legit, and any further contact from this Secret Shopper hoax needed to be followed up by a police report.
I’m a dumb college kid that often is lured into sketchy situations with the promise of adventure and excitement. The only issue with that is the rest of the world DOES NOT CARE. Questionable people with questionable intentions wait for the easily enticed to bite on their bait. The moral of the story: Never give out your information, unless you know the source, especially on the internet. I know the tired saying reads, “It’s a tough world out there, only the ‘strong’ survive.” But I want to revise it to, “only the smart survive.” As I learn how to be more cautious, I’m sure the rest of the world could use a friendly reminder also.