Americans need to learn we don’t get something for nothing — but that blunt lesson is lost on many of us who believe the American Dream is not home ownership, but rather getting money for not working.  Unfortunately, there are other people in the world that exploit on that hoary truth for their own grifting schemes.

There’s an old scam called the “Secret Shopper” or the “Mystery Shopper” — watch Judge Judy or read any local newspaper to see how the lie still lives in a variety of schemes — as people believe they are hired to do shopping research and, as a demonstration of good faith on the “company side,” the mark is sent a check to cash.

The mark deposits the $3,000.00 check from the company and is told to keep $500.00 and send the rest back to the company.

A few days or weeks after the check has been deposited and the money is spent or returned, the mark is hit by their bank with overdraft fees and a taking back of the money that was wrongfully credited by the bad check:

There are disreputable companies scamming shoppers. Some charge a fee for information on becoming a shopper. We do not and have never charged a shopper to affiliate with us. One of the latest and more serious we’ve heard about is a company sending out large advance cashiers checks. The shopper is told to send a MoneyGram or Western Union to a person in Canada, keeping part of the check for themselves. However, the check is not legitimate and bounces, leaving the shopper without any money to cover the MoneyGram. For more information, see

Why do you think this “money for nothing” scam has such a long and wide life?

Are Americans particularly trusting and gullible?  Or are they cleverer in their “life is a lottery” belief and the confirmation of such a mentality is gifted in the “miracle money?”


  1. I know that at Starbucks, there were secret shoppers that would come in and evaluate everything from the quality of the service to the weight of a cappucino – I didn’t realize the secret shopper ads were fake but I have tried to live by the words of my father – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Works wonders, really.

  2. Well, there is confusion, Gordon, because is a legit company and website — but the bad folks use their good name to promote a devious scam.

  3. The point of this article is that a substantial paycheck doesn’t come from mediocre efforts. I agree with Gordon’s statement: “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!”

  4. Right, Kimberley! If someone offers you a check for $3,000.00 with zero effort on your part, run the other way, don’t take the check and race to the bank to cash it.

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