Secret shopper scam is back, Sheriff’s Office warns

YCSO/Courtesy photo


A letter of instructions a Prescott resident received that Sheriff's officials say is a scam.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office was recently notified of the return of the secret shopper survey scam, according to YCSO Spokesperson Dwight D’Evelyn.

A Prescott resident told the Sheriff’s Office they received a priority mail envelope with instructions on enrolling in a secret shopper program providing “undercover” surveys of local businesses. Included was a check for $2,972 made out to the homeowner with instructions to cash the check and use a portion of the money for “expenses” when conducting the survey. A major portion of the money was designated for the purchase of four pre-paid credit cards of $650 each, or $2,600.

“The goal of this rip-off is to convince the participant to cash the check and contact ‘John’ as directed for the business location. It is at this time ‘John’ will ask for the pre-paid card numbers so he can immediately withdraw the funds,” the news release states. “Suspects utilizing this scam technique rely on a timeline where the victim follows the directions immediately after depositing the check and before the bank notifies them the check is fraudulent. By then, the suspect has stolen up to $2,600 and the victim is now fully responsible for the original deposit.”

There are some tips people can follow to avoid a mystery shopping scam. One is doing research as most legitimate secret shopper jobs are posted online by reputable marketing research or merchandising companies. Also, never wire money, send pre-paid cards or deposit a check from to someone unknown, and never give personal or financial information out online.

For more details, visit Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or at