There are a few ways that mystery shopping scams emerge, but this one is pretty crafty.

Who Is It Targeting: Those looking for extra income

What Is It: A phishing scam that snares you once you cash their check

What Are They After: The scam involves a cashier’s check for a few thousand dollars that arrives out of the blue. You’re instructed to cash the check at your bank, buy several $500 Walmart gift cards, then keep the remaining money for yourself, typically a few hundred dollars. After you send photos of the gift cards’ numbers and PINs to the scammers, your bank finally discovers that the cashier’s check was faked. The entire amount is then deducted from your account while the scammers have already used the gift cards.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • There is no such thing as free money.
  • If someone pays you hundreds of dollars for a simple task that takes only a few minutes, then something fishy is going on.
  • If you do have to cash a check for any reason, it’s wise to either cash it at the issuing bank or hang onto the money until it has cleared; if the check is no good, you can always return the cash to your account.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from