The scam is aimed at the “make money from home” market, a sector rapidly increasing as unemployed or underemployed families struggle financially. It will only be a matter of time before it crosses the border to prey on naive Americans too.
The con starts with a letter sent in the mail offering a job as a “mystery shopper”, tasked with testing out a retail outlet’s customer service.
Inside the letter, is a check, which the victim is asked to cash. A portion of the funds are to buy specific items at named retail outlets. There is always a balance remaining from which the shopper is instructed to deduct a shopper’s fee and wire the rest to a given name via MoneyGram. I have not found any mention of shipping the purchased goods, generally a part of such scams.
The check is of course counterfeit.
MoneyGram International is a 14 year old money transfer business currently headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The company offers a variety of financial transfer services both domestic and international. It claims to be the second largest Money Order supplier in the USA through a network of retail outlets including WalMart. The MoneyGram Prepaid Debit Card (not an affiliate link) was popular at one time with eBay sellers looking to insulate themselves from PayPal access to their bank accounts.
MoneyGram was once a golden child of Wall Street analysts. Past CEO Philip Milne led the company to losses of more than $1.6 billion in 2008 from investments in securities backed by risky mortgages. During his four year tenure stock fell from a high of $289 in May 2006 to $7.20 in June 2008, later dipping as low as $1.18 For this he received a $13.1 million severance package. Currently trading at between $17 - $18 MoneyGram is understandably unhappy at the association of its name and services with a criminally fraudulent scheme.
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