Consumers across the country have been receiving checks to do mystery shopping from a firm located in Atlanta, Georgia called High Country, Inc. This company, also known as High Country Outfitters, is a legitimate company, however, the offer and the checks are fake.
BBB received a call from this company’s bank asking us to alert consumers that since September 14, 2009, approximately 30 fraudulent checks are being presented on this company’s account each day.
Consumers are receiving fake checks in the mail after signing up online to do secret shopping, home remodeling and other various requests and are depositing these checks in banks across the United States.
Scams involving fake checks typically require the victim to deposit a check into their bank account then wire money back to the scammers. While the check may initially be deposited into the victim’s bank account—leading to a false sense of security—the fake check will ultimately be discovered within a couple weeks and the bank will take the funds out of the account. The victim of the scam is out whatever money they sent to the scammers and will be responsible for paying the bank back if their account is overdrawn.
Mystery Shopping Scam General Advice
The victim believes that they are going to earn a few hundred dollars by working for a company that provides mystery—or secret—shopping evaluations for businesses. The victim receives a letter in the mail along with evaluation forms, a check and detailed instructions. The victim is to deposit the check into their bank account, and then use the money to purchase items from specified stores and evaluate the customer service the rest of the money is theirs to keep for the work they did. Included in the list of stores to evaluate is Western Union or MoneyGram and the victim is told to wire as much as a couple thousand dollars back to their “employer” and rate their experience with the money wiring service.
BBB advises extreme caution when dealing with any company that sends a check and asks you to deposit the check in your account and then send them money. We know of no instance where the consumer actually made money and consider this to be a scam.