Saanich resident bilked by online mystery shopper scam

Saanich Police issue warning after resident swindled out of nearly $1,000

A Saanich resident is out nearly $1,000 after they applied online to be a mystery shopper.

The scam isn’t new but it continues to reshape itself and slip through the cracks of usually reliable online job sites, said Saanich Police acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie.

“Often what happens is once you apply to a certain ad posted on Kijiji or Craigslist and after some correspondence you’ll get a cheque, or cheques, in the mail to pay for your services and to cover the cost of the products or services you’re secretly shopping for,” Leslie said.

In this instance the victim applied to a mystery shopping posting on Following that, they received two cheques in the mail, totalling $2,750.

The victim deposited one of these cheques into their bank account. When they attempted to deposit the other cheque, they were informed the cheque was fraudulent, but the victim had already wired two transactions for $990 through Western Union.  The resident is now out that $990, Leslie said.

“The scam often relies on the cheques being deposited into a back account by ATM so the bank won’t find the deposit for a day, maybe two [on the weekend], and in that time the victim has wired the difference through Western Union or wire service,” Leslie said.

Despite working with Saanich Police and other law enforcement agencies, Western Union can’t spot a scam such as this without any communication from the victim, as the information needed to wire the money is minimal and confidential.

“Some scams will even tell the mystery shopper to ‘monitor’ the performance of the clerk at Western Union, or whatever money transferring company they use,” Leslie said.

He said Western Union or similar institutions are used because the money is virtually untraceable once it’s been wired.

There are several minor variations of this scam, Leslie explained. One of those carries an additional caveat that the mystery shopping company will claim it can only send cheques for $1,000, in lieu of sending a more specific amount for a product.  The instructions also tend to suggest visiting a chain store or restaurant.

Scams such as this target the most vulnerable people who are seeking jobs and therefore cannot afford to lose money through a scam, Leslie added.


Just Posted

A single-vehicle incident has closed southbound traffic along the Pat Bay Highway from Sayward Road Monday morning. Emergency crews are on scene. (Black Press Media file photo)
TRAFFIC: Single-vehicle incident closes section of Pat Bay

Highway southbound from Sayward Road closed Monday morning

Four residents and two cats were displaced from their home in James Bay when a fire broke out Sunday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
No injuries in James Bay house fire

Fire broke out at about 2 p.m. Sunday

University of Victoria researchers received more than $9 million from the federal government for projects that aim to advance big ideas, discoveries and innovations. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
University of Victoria research boosted with more than $9 million in federal funding

The research funding will support a wide range of projects and study

LeoVegas's promotional art for their survey of Canada's funniest proviences (LeoJoker)
B.C. second-funniest province in Canada: online survey

Dry humour popular with B.C. residents – we’re also boisterous laughers

Coun. Bob Thompson wants authorities to delay the June 30 deadline for submissions to BC Housing’s request-for-proposal to run the supportive housing project at Prosser Road. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich calls for delay in supportive housing project deadline

Municipality wants more say in eventual choice of contractor to run supportive housing project

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read