Scam Alert: Consumer Protection Warns About Apple Store Mystery Shopping Scam
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 – The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) has been made aware of a mystery shopping scam asking consumers to purchase Apple Store gift cards at their “local Apple Store” in exchange for $200.00, or $300.00 if you’re eligible for a bonus.
“Scams like this one often pop up this time of year,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “Even if someone doesn’t owe taxes, it’s a time of year when we’re all focused on our finances, and a little extra cash is more tempting than usual. Unfortunately, that means we all need to be more alert.”
Here’s how the scam works:
- You get mailed a check for $2,350.00, along with instructions to text a number in order for the funds to be released. Whenever you get mailed a check in advance, and are directed to spend some of it, it’s almost always a scam. They check will bounce after you’ve completed your “work”.
- The expectation is that you deposit your check, and visit your “local Apple Store” to purchase two $1,050.00 gift cards. Scammers often use vague information, like “local Apple Store” instead of specifics.
- If you complete this task within 48 hours of receiving your package in the mail, you are permitted to deduct $100.00 from your purchase as a “bonus”. Legitimate companies would never allow you to deduct your own bonus from a purchase like this.
- Once you’re finished, you are to scratch off the security codes from the back of the cards, and send photos of the cards, complete with information about the amount on them to a number via text message. You’re not asked to submit a report about your experience, only to text a number all of the information they need to use the money on the card.
- At the bottom of the letter, you’re invited to text a number if you don’t live near an Apple Store, but do live near a Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Target, or any “local grocery store chains”. Fraudsters often use names of, or even impersonate legitimate companies in order to gain your trust. Don’t fall for it. Even this letter attempts to impersonate an Apple logo.
Victims of these types of scams find that someone has spent the money on the gift cards they’ve purchased, and the check they thought was in their checking account has bounced, and they’re out funds. The best thing consumers can do is avoid any offer that sounds too good to be true.
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to scam, please file a complaint with DCP by emailing email@example.com.
Lora Rae Anderson
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 247-8711 (cell)