Mystery Shopper Scams

Updated 01/09/2017

You can now report internet scams/attempted scams online with Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre:

How to spot a scam

  • All emails from us come from addresses ending in - if someone contacts you from a different address, it isn't us.
  • Genuine companies will use a company email address. If someone contacts you from an account with Hotmail or Gmail etc, they are unlikely to be a genuine company.

  • We only send emails to shoppers who have registered with us - if you didn't register on our database, we won't email you.

  • We do not pay our shoppers through Western Union, and we never ask them to transfer money with Western Union.

  • If you are asked to bank a cheque, it's likely to be a scam.

  • No genuine mystery shopping company would trust someone they don't know with a large sum of money as an advance - if you are contacted and offered a large payment in advance, this is likely to be a scam.

  • If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably will be - mystery shopping does not normally pay large amounts, so if you are offered £100 to conduct a basic enquiry it is very unlikely to be a genuine assignment.

  • If you apply for non mystery shopping work on a job site, and are then told that the vacancy is filled but there is mystery shopping work available as an alternative, this is likely to be a scam.

If you receive a mystery shopping scam email, forward it to us at we can add the sender to our list on this page (see below).

Here are a couple of links which give a bit more information on scams (a USA based site but a lot of the information applies to the UK too)

Current scams which we have been made aware of:

September 2017

Emails that come from with a subject of 'Service Evaluation'

These emails say the company will pay you USD 350 to visit Wal.Mart or Western Union. They ask for you to reply with your contact details.


July 2017

Emails that come from 'Recruitment Team Market Force Information & Mystery Shoppers Secret Shopper © 2017'

These emails ask you for your bank account information and are offering £1000 for 20 minutes' work.


Emails that appear to be from us, using our email footer and company logo with the subject line of: SECRET MYSTERY SHOPPERS(R) JOB OFFER - FLEXIBLE HOURS!! 

The emails appear to come from and are asking the recipient for various details including their full name, phone number, address, gender, age and occupation. Links in the email will take you to our facebook page and to the shopper portal login page however, details in the email footer do not match ours such as the company name and the reply to email address:



A scam company called ‘Mystery Shopping UK’ have been offering a Shoplifting/Theft Service to companies. - a website which is no longer loading, was hiring shoppers to take on the role of ‘personal Shoplifter’ and steal from shops, including high street store Boots. This BBC Newsbeat Article explains more.

New - a scam website ( ) has been set up by an organisation calling themselves Retail Shoppers Ltd - This website is made up of content stolen from our website, including information about our Managing Director, Paul Grafton. Please note that we are in no way associated with this company, and have not given them permission to use any of the content from our website. If you are contacted by anyone from this organisation, please beware that it is likely to be a scam. The scam site includes a link to the sign-up form - you should NOT register to become a mystery shopper with this site. They refer to themselves as Retail Shopper, Retails Shoppers, Retail Shoppers Ltd and Marketing Shoppers.

Shoppers being offered 'Trial assignments' involving signing up to an online service This company is offering people 'Trial Assignments', which involve signing up to a free trial of a service online such as Netflix or LoveFilm, or free credit reports. You are asked to mystery shop the service as a test of your mystery shopping abilities, and told that if your assignment is used you will be paid a generous fee. In order to sign up to a free trial for services such as LoveFilm, you normally have to provide your bank or credit card details even though they don't charge you. The company will send you a sign-up link to use, and they are skimming your payment details via this link and will then take money from your account. Be warned these scammers are very clever, they even have warnings about mystery shopping scams in their emails!

Text messages from ''

People are being sent text messages from TheMysteryShoppers, inviting people to email them (at or and various variations of this email address) about mystery shopping assignments. If you receive a text message from a company you have not registered with, ignore it - reputable companies do not recruit new shoppers by sending text messages to members of the public. 

Scammers using 'Gumtree' and 'Career Builder' to recruit mystery shoppers

Mystery Shoppers Ltd has been tipped off that scammers are using the reputable sites 'Gumtree'  and 'Career Builder' to lure members of the public into signing up with them under the pretence of cashing fraudulent cheques for Mystery Shopping services. Not all advertisements for Mystery Shopping assignments on job sites are scams, but please read our advice at the top of this page on spotting scams.

Watch for 'UK Mystery Shopper Employment Agency'

We have been hearing a great deal about a company called the UK Mystery Shopper Employment Agency. We suspect them to be a scam as they charge a registration fee which then gives you access to a list of mystery shopping companies. These are mostly American and Canandian companies, as well as a few UK ones. This information can be obtained from Google at no cost at all. They don't have any contact information on the website, your only form of contact with them is by email but even then you are just sent automated responses back. Reputable mystery shopping companies do not charge a fee to register.

Advance fee scams

Please be aware that there is currently a scam in the UK, US and Canada which works like this:they ask you to carry out one or more assignments and say they will fund you in advance. BUT the funding they use is a money order or cheque for more than the cost of carrying out the assignments. They ask you to send them the surplus money after deducting your shopper fee. After doing so, your bank will find that the money order/cheque was fraudulent and you will be left out of pocket. This type of scam is known as the ‘Advance Fee’ fraud.



Scam names:

Some of the names being used by scammers pretending to be us are:


  • MS-PA Manager
  • Cheryl Lowi
  • John Patel
  • Ellen Sotto
  • Richard Swanson
  • Ben Patel
  • John Hunter
  • Richard J Antonio
  • Ashley Park (via Career Builder)
  • James Henry
  • David Anderson
  • John Slater
  • Andy Simpson
  • Michael Wayte
  • George Harrison
  • Ron Carter
  • Debra Jennings
  • David Brown
  • James Partric
  • Dean Collins
  • David Satton
  • Alexandra Rubenstein

None of these people are associated with Mystery Shoppers Ltd.


Scam Emails:

Email addresses have been used recently to send scam emails:


If you are in any doubt regarding an email appearing to be from us please forward it to us at and we'll let you know if it's us or not.

Some samples of scam emails below:

Subject: Re: Job Offer Become our [MYSTERY SHOPPER]

Need extra INCOME!
EARN NO LESS THAN 500.00 British Pounds

Earn [NO LESS THAN 500.00 British Pounds] Per Venture:
It is Very Easy and Very Simple:
No Application fees:

Here's your chance to get paid for shopping and dining out.

Your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide Variety of shops, Stores, restaurant and services in your area.
Mystery shoppers are needed throughout United Kingdom. You'll be paid to shop and dine out-plus, you can also get free meals, free merchandise,
free services, free entertainment, free travel and more. Great Pay. Fun Work. Flexible Schedules.

No experience required.

If you can shop-you are qualified!
Let me explain to you what it entails what is a mystery shopper? A mystery shopper is like being 007 at the mall.
Mystery shoppers must complete their assignments and go un-detected.
Mystery Shoppers receive assignments consisting of a variety of business types such as: restaurants, food chains,
automobile dealerships, retail stores, and more.

Businesses benefit from the services of a mystery shopper because they report their unbiased review from a customer's standpoint.

This enables the business to identify problems that could result in a unhappy customer and loss of sales.

As you can see, mystery shoppers have a great responsibility and are paid accordingly.

As a Mystery Shopper you can:

Earn up to 500 British Pounds per assignment have a flexible schedule and hours pick and choose what assignments you want and bring your kids with you on assignments.

Work part time or full time.
Get free merchandise
Get paid for dining out
Stay at hotels for free
Get paid for going to the movies
And much more...

What you need to do is to get back to me with the stated details below:

Your Full Name:
Residential Address:
Post code:
Phone Number(s):

We are looking forward to read back from you.

John Patel.
Mystery Shopper Inc

From: CareerBuilder <>
Subject: Job Proposal

You have been selected to become a mysteryshopper agent on the field.The jobs are easy, fun and well paid.We have sent you an attachment with more information about this position with us.Download the attachment, read it and signup the form.You will be contacted to validate your position with us.Good Day,MysteryShopper.Ltd

Subject: MYSTERY SHOPPER ($200.00)

we require secret survey agent, who can help us survey Western Union and
Wal-Mart stores (stores might change) secretly without their knowledge as we have received lots of complaints regarding their services.
You will have to use the following pointers below to prepare your report:
- Assessment and advice on customer care.
- Store layout and ease of selection.
- Depth of selection.
- Customer care programs and service audits.
- Staff appearance.
- Staffs approach.
- Staff knowledge of product.
- General Service level
- Store cleanliness.
- Cash and wrap area appearance.
- Exit polls.
- Telephone surveys and market research projects undertaken
the funds to shop at Wal-Mart stores and to complete the Western Union survey would be provided by us. We feel you are dedicated and request you to fill in the following information below and send us back.
Is there a Western Union outlet nearby to your place(reply with a YES or NO):
Is there a Wal-Mart store nearby to your place(reply with a YES or NO):
Payment: Your pay would be paid $200 on each evaluation and you could even take this as your part time job, which just requires an hour or so to complete the evaluation.
P.S: A brief description on how to go about the process would also be sent to your address with the funds for future references.
Thank you,
Best Wishes and Regards.
Regional Instructor
David Brown
Secret Shopper®

Subject: Mystery-Shopping Provider's Association

Hello Dear,

We are a charter member of the Mystery-Shopping Provider's Association (MS-PA),
You have been selected for assignment as a mystery-shoppers in your area.
You will get 300 Pounds as a commission per assignment, your employment packet will
include funds for the shopping.There's no charge to apply to become a shopper.

Payment check or money order will be a certain amount which you would be
required to cash in your bank then deduct your salary,and have the rest used for
the evaluation.

Please provide the following information below if you interested.

All fields are required in order to serve you better.

- First/Last Name :
- PhysicalAddress :
- City :
- State :
- ZipCode :
- PhoneNumber :
- Sex & Age :
- CurrentJob :
- EmailAddress :

You will have access to training materials after this one complete and your full
Job Description will be sent to you prior in your assignment.

Thank you for responding, we waiting your good response.

Thank You,
Thomas Smith



I've been sent your details from Taylor and Smith and I wanted to make sure I answered any questions you have before we take things further, so apologies if this email is a bit long! Please make sure you read and fully understand everything below before progressing.

I've fast tracked you to the trial assignment stage to save time but I wanted to make it clear exactly what we do before we go ahead as there's often a lot of confusion surrounding mystery shopping. Please read the following information carefully.

We will not offer you work ourselves. Rather, we will ask the best candidates to take part in a trial assignment. After you successfully complete the trial, if we judge your questionnaire/interview to be of sufficient quality, we pass your details on to a selection of our clients who we feel are appropriate for you, e.g. ones with available positions in your area. Each client can then make a decision about employing you based on factors such as the quality of the responses in your questionnaire/interview, your demographics and so on.

Once you've successfully completed a trial assignment you can also use us as a reference. You can use us as a reference when applying for any job but it's mainly aimed at, and useful for, helping you get mystery shop work.

How to use us as a reference will be explained once you complete your trial. We'll also email you with details of agencies with available positions at regular intervals.

You should be able to answer most questions you might have by looking through the FAQ on our website. We also have a trial FAQ answering common questions about trial assignments at

You should read through the trial FAQ before going ahead. We value independence and self-motivation in our mystery shop candidates so try your best to answer your own questions by reading our materials before asking.

We have a lot of people apply because the positions are well paid and interesting so we can pick and choose to some extent.

Avoiding Scams:

Before we go ahead I just want to draw your attention to something that's quite important in our industry. We feel it is in our and your best interests to keep you fully informed and you should know that the mystery shopping industry has suffered in the past from being associated with scams. These scams are quite rare nowadays so I don't mean to put you off but you should be aware of their existence.

These schemes involve the scammer sending a cheque to you. They then ask you to "mystery shop" a money transfer service, such as the untraceable Western Union service, to send the money, minus your pay for the assignment, to them. It all seems legitimate but a week or so later, when the cheque bounces, you are left out of pocket, possibly to the tune of thousands of pounds.

Rather than offer you mystery shop positions ourselves we, with your agreement, pass your details on to our clients, who are mystery shop and promotional staffing agencies with positions available, as well as giving you agency contact details. Therefore we ourselves would never have the opportunity to take you in with such a scam. We also do our homework on the agencies we send your details to, making sure they are legitimate names in the industry and will not scam you. However, despite this, you must take responsibility for looking out for yourself as well so follow these few simple tips to stay safe:

- NEVER accept an assignment to mystery shop a money transfer service.

- It is normal for you to spend cash when mystery shopping a shop, or use your bank card when mystery shopping an ecommerce store or an online service. You should, however, be paid an allowance up front if you are required to spend any money during your assignment.

- NEVER accept a cheque where you must send a portion of the money back again (talk to your bank if you suspect you're being targeted by a cheque cashing scammer).

From time-to-time we receive a worried email from someone who is concerned about a mystery shopping position they have been offered. We also occasionally receive emails from people wondering if we are somehow going to scam them out of money. We will never ask you to send us money or cash any cheques and our service is provided at no cost to you. We will only ever ask you to complete a trial assignment and pass on the results and your details to our clients.

In the interests of full disclosure we would like to inform you that in some cases we may receive a fee or payment for you completing an assignment, trial or for passing your details on to a company looking for new mystery shoppers - this allows us to offer our service without charging you anything. But we will NEVER ask for or take any money from you.

With all that said, mystery shopping is a great job. Scams are rare nowadays and most people have long and happy careers without ever experiencing one. And if you follow the rules above then you can have peace of mind that you are unlikely to be targeted.

Going Ahead:

So if that hasn't put you off then let's go ahead!

I've set up a trial assignment for you. Officially the trial is unpaid but if we decide to use any quotes from your questionnaire/interview then you'll be paid 50 pounds. We require you to carry out a trial before we pass your details on to our clients looking for mystery shoppers or send you details of agencies with positions available. This is to ensure that you are able to provide a quality interview/questionnaire, that you can follow instructions and that you don't require too much input from us in the form of questions, cancellations of assignments, etc.

To begin, I'm going to need you to make a choice from the available trial assignments. To do that go to

and select your preferred choice, then enter your details in the web form.

Try to get it done today or tomorrow as we have quite a lot of people interested. We offer you a choice because for your trial we only want you to use a service that you "would have used anyway" even if we had not introduced you to it - i.e. you shouldn't mystery shop a service you aren't interested in. They are all either free services or free trials of services so that you don't have to spend any money. If you use a free trial of a service then you are not required to go on to use a paid version of the service after the trial. I've explained each choice below. Once you've made your choice you then need to enter your details in the form and choose whether you'd prefer a telephone interview or online questionnaire. When you're registered our system will send you a confirmation email to protect against spam and once you've clicked the link in that email you'll get an email explaining the next step.

Here are the options we've currently got available:

Option A - Mystery Shop a Streaming/DVD Service

For this option you will be shopping a national brand such as Netflix, LoveFilm or Sky NowTV. Such services let you choose from either online streaming of videos to your computer/smartTV or DVD rental, or a combination of both streaming and DVD rental. They allow you to watch films and TV shows on demand, and sometimes also allow you access to games. You will use a free trial of whichever service you are assigned so that you do not have to pay to use it. If you have already used a free trial of the service you are assigned then you will not be able to use a free trial.

Also, you will not be able to select which of the three brands you are assigned. This means that if you currently use one of these services, or have in the past at your current address, you should not select this option.

If you are assigned this option then you must actually use the service , i.e. you must watch some videos, and should be interested in streaming films, DVDs, etc. You'll then be asked for your opinions on the service in the form of either a questionnaire or telephone interview. You should select this option if you are interested in watching films and TV shows at home. You should not select this service if this is of no interest to you.

It is estimated that this assignment will last 2 to 3 weeks.

Option B - Compare Credit Report Services

If you are assigned this task then you will compare two websites that both give you free trial access to your credit report. You will be required to access your credit report on two different services and then compare your experiences with them via questionnaire/interview, e.g. comparing ease of use, etc. We will not ask you to show us your credit reports - they are confidential.

You should select this option if you are interested in seeing your credit report or knowing your credit score - which is important in determining if you can get a loan/mortgage, being accepted for jobs and in renting properties. This is a shorter task and the assignment is likely to last 1 to 2 weeks.

Those are the choices currently available. After you've registered your trial choice you'll be sent an email with further info that should hopefully explain anything I've missed out. Also, if you're not comfortable with anything then no worries, mystery shopping isn't for everyone, just shoot me an email back and I'll cancel the trial for you. I'm going to be out of the office for several days but I'll pick it up when I get back.



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01409 255025
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