Better Call Behnken

Secret Shopper scam hits Davenport family, leaves them owing hundreds of dollars

DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) - Latosha Thomas had no idea that her husband, Ferdinand, started work as a secret shopper. Now, the family is on the hook for hundreds of dollars. 

Ferdinand is disabled following a stroke, and he thought he was helping out with family holiday expenses.

He signed up online for a side job as a secret shopper and was thrilled to learn he got the job. 

He received a letter in the mail, after signing up online, along with a check for $998.

There were instructions to buy iTunes gifts cards and send the codes back to the boss.

Ferdinand could keep a couple hundred dollars for his payment, the letter read, and he would earn more if he bought the cards quickly.

By the time his wife, Latosha, found out what was going on, he had already paid $550 for gift cards.

"He told me about the Secret Shopper and I said, 'How much money did they give you?' He told me, and I said, 'Up front? Let me see that check,'" Latosha Thomas said. 

Latosha called the bank that issued the check and discovered that account number, routing number and check number did not match. The check was fake. 

This type of scam is growing in popularity. Here's how it works.

By the time your bank realizes the check is fake, the scammer has the gift card codes and are long gone. You're on the hook to pay back the bank. 

Ferdinand took his assignment seriously, even taking detailed notes and photos of the stores' cleanliness. Now he knows that any day now, his bank will take back the $998.

Ferdinand gave one of the $100 cards to his wife for Christmas, and he's trying to sell the remaining $450 in cards to get his money back.


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