The Daily Press

Scam alert: Acting attorney general, AARP Pennsylvan­ia warn residents to be on the lookout

- By Matt Hymowitz

The acting Pennsylvan­ia attorney general warned residents recently about a secret shopper scam.

A text message, email or letter asks the recipient to participat­e in a research project as a secret shopper with no need for an interview because he or she is a perfect fit.

The recruiter sends a check to participan­ts that’s worth more than the items they’ll buy, which supposedly means the shopper can keep the rest as a bonus. The participan­ts are then told to deposit the check immediatel­y, buy gift cards and give the scammer the number and PIN on the cards.

The check, however, is fraudulent, acting Attorney General Michelle Henry said. But the participan­ts have already purchased the items and sent the gift cards to the scammer.

“Pennsylvan­ians should know the tricks these scammers use so they can proactivel­y keep themselves, their money, and their personal informatio­n safe,” Henry said in a release Tuesday. “Anyone receiving suspicious emails, calls, or texts should report them to my Office to help protect yourself and others.”

These are warning signs of the scam, the AG’s office said:

A job listing or unsolicite­d mailing, text, call or email that promises you will make a lot of money as a secret shopper.

A secret shopper job where you are required to pay upfront.

An “employer” that sends you a check or money order and tells you to deposit it in your account and return part of it to the sender.

Consumers who have fallen victim to this scam or similar scams can submit a complaint with the state Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting attorneyge­­aint, emailing at scams@attorneyge­neral. gov or calling the AG’s office at 800-441-2555.

Spring break travel scams

As spring break approaches, AARP Pennsylvan­ia advised residents Tuesday to be on the lookout for travel scams.

A common scam involves offering a highly discounted trip that seems too good to be true. These trips require payment in advance, and travelers may find the accommodat­ions and activities they were promised are not available. Travelers may even show up at their destinatio­n and find the hotel they booked doesn’t even exist, AARP Pennsylvan­ia said.

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