Secret Shopper Email Scam Caught By Kennewick Woman - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Secret Shopper Email Scam Caught By Kennewick Woman

Posted: Updated:

KENNEWICK, WA - A Kennewick woman thought she was taking part in a seasonal secret shopper program, but then, she went to cash a check and found out she would be sending thousands of dollars to the Philippines.

Secret shoppers are common. Companies invite you with emails to shop at chain stores and then fill out surveys to evaluate customer service. When Lorraine Jensen received her first assignment she noticed something wasn't quite right.

"On Thursday I got the packet and it had a check for $2,810, which I thought was unusual," said Jensen who has plenty of friends who work as secret shoppers as a side business to make extra money when times are tough. "I mean we're on a limited income so if I could make a little extra money...and $300 for doing what they asked me to do was pretty good."

Jensen has been donating plasma to earn some extra cash for Christmas presents and this was just another way to cover basic costs. The emails started coming more often after she responded with some contact information. Everything seemed normal right up until she received her first assignment, cashing a seemingly legitimate check, but one that was really nothing but an imposter.

"When the check didn't actually clear then I would be liable to pay that money back," she said.

The check even had a fake fraud detector complete with watermarks. But when Jensen checked the routing numbers, they did not exist with the credit union. Luckily, Jensen was smart enough to catch the scam and wants others to learn from it.

"A lot of times older people get scammed, but this type of scam, a secret shopper could be anyone… If it sounds too good to be true, it is."

The money was never sent to the Philippines, but Jensen says she has spoken with other locals who have had similar scam experiences with secret shoppers. She's worried that scammers are preying on vulnerable people who are just trying to make some extra cash for the holidays.