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Evanston citizens should be aware of a scam going around, via the Internet and U.S. Mail. The randomly selected target of these scams receives e-mail correspondence from a company, in this example a Shopping Network, employing secret shoppers. The company offers to pay the “mystery shopper” a fee for their services. The e-mail informs the victim that they will be receiving a check in the mail payable to the victim, in the sum of a large number, say $3,500. Once receiving this check, the victim is instructed to cash the check, take their “commission” usually a generous sum, say $500. The victim is then instructed to send the remaining balance $3,000 via the local Western Union, to a named designated person, often in a foreign country. If this is done, a few days later the original check ($3,500) cashed by the victim, bounces and they are held liable.  

Here’s an example of the initial contact to the person being victimized: 

“Dear Shopper, (Actual e-mail sent to scam victims)  

“Sorry for the delay in getting the payment across to you, this was due to many factors. I am pleased to tell you that the payment for your first assignment has been sent and will be delivered to you today via UPS courier service, as soon as this done please notify me and proceed with your assignment according to the memo attached to the payment.

Hope to hear from you soon, have a great day. 

“Regards,

Mr. XXXXXXX”  

If the victim does not cooperate with the scam, the company begins to send follow-up

e-mails. These e-mails will be persistent, encouraging the victim to follow through with the original instructions. 

Example follow-up e-mail: 

“Dear Shopper (Actual follow-up e-mail sent to scam victim)

“How are you and how is your day going so far? I am writing to check on
the status of the payment sent to you, kindly write back with the
transfer details for the funds transfer and a comprehensive detail of
the evaluation assignment you were given. Hope to hear from you soon,
take care and God bless.
 

“Mr. XXXXXXXXX”

The bottom line is, If it sounds to good to be true, it most likely is. Never give any personal information to parties your not completely familiar with and have verified the legitimacy of their organization. Internet and mail scams are often convoluted, involving multiple jurisdictions, and are hard to investigate and prosecute. Guard your personal information, shred all personal documents before placing them in the garbage, never relinquish personal information to unsolicited callers, and verify all companies and charities before your do business with them.