'Mystery Shopper' scam arrives in LaRue County

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By Linda Ireland

A scam using the lure of easy money for becoming a “Mystery Shopper” has surfaced in LaRue County.
Terry Davenport received a letter from “Bestmark” offering him the chance of participating in a consumer research survey in “selected retail stores, restaurants and various other commercial establishments .…”
Mystery Shoppers are used by market research companies to measure the quality of service and gather other information about products.
The letter, written on official-looking stationery, promised $300 per week and included a check for $1,990.
For his first assignment, Davenport was instructed to pose as a customer at any Western Union location. The second assignment was to take place in Best Buy, JC Penney, K-Mart, Macy’s, Sears or Wal-mart.
Davenport was skeptical so he took the check to his bank and asked for an evaluation. The cashier’s check certainly looked authentic, and the bank it was drawn on was real. However, it was forged.
“Anything that looks too good to be true usually is,” he said.
Bank employees told him of others who had fallen for the scam and were left with an overdrawn checking account and overdraft fees.
The scam was even more convincing because “Bestmark Inc.” has been a legitimate mystery shopping establishment since 1986, according to its website. The company has posted a warning about the scam on its website.
BestMark Inc. does not require shoppers to cash or deposit a check as part of a mystery shopping assignment, transfer funds or send a letter through the mail advising of the shopper’s selection.
Contact from Bestmark Inc. will be by phone or e-mail using an @bestmark.com email address.
If you are contacted by anyone purporting to be a representative of BestMark, contact the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Submission link at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ or call the company at call 952-922-3890.