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.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Campus View Elementary undergoes $4.2 million in seismic upgrades

Campus View Elementary undergoes significant seismic upgrades

Claremont Spartans win the inaugural Senior Girls’ AAAA Basketball Island Championship

Claremont Spartans win their Feb. 15 game agains the Royal Bay Ravens 71 - 64

Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

Cascadia Seaweed is experiencing rapid growth after launching six months ago

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

Westin Bear Mountain invests $2 million to renovate newly-named spa

‘Amatista Spa’ has yet to announce official opening date

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read