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I have avoided a scam.

Had I not been wary, the scammer would have fleeced several hundreds of dollars from me.

It started with a seemingly innocuous email offering to me a job. The position being offered is that of a “secret shopper.” The person who sent the email, a certain “James Brewster,” wrote, “Would you like to work as a Feedback Specialist? I can explain to you in details if you’re interested. Thank you, James.”

I replied, “Yes, I am interested. Please explain.”

His reply: “Become our Feedback Specialist. You will earn $200 per venture. You will be paid for shopping and dining out.

“Your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service, undetected, in a wide variety of shops, stores, restaurants and services in your area. Feedback specialists are needed throughout America. You’ll be paid to shop and dine out, getting free meals, free merchandise, free services, free entertainment, free travel and more.

“Great pay, fun work, flexible schedule and no training required. If you can shop, you are qualified!

“Feedback Specialist reports provide business with unbiased reviews from a customer standpoint. This allows businesses to identify problems which might result in unhappy customers and loss of sales. Feedback Specialists have a great responsibility and are paid accordingly.

“As a Feedback Specialist, you will earn $200 per assignment, have a flexible schedule and hours, and choose the assignments you want. You can even bring your kids with you!

“We send you checks for your assignments. You cash each check and use our money to carry out your assignment. You do not use any of your money.

“It might sound too good to be true BUT it is absolutely legitimate. To complete your application, please provide the following information: Full Name, Full Mailing Address (City, State and Zip Code ), Cell Phone #(s), Email, and Present Occupation (If ANY).

“We look forward to working with you.

“Regards, James Brewster, Hiring Manager, Dilwork Shop LLC.

1320 Granada Ave., San Diego, CA. 92102.”

In reply, I provided the information asked. I said that my present occupation is publisher-editor of a community newspaper in Michigan.

I was thinking that the work is right down my alley as I write review of restaurants once in a while. This could be a nice part-time job, I told myself.

One day later, came this email: “Thank you for your interest in employment opportunities with Dilwork Shop LLC. This acknowledges that we have received your information. Your application is in the process of being reviewed and will be considered equally with all others. We will contact you if our needs and your qualifications appear to be a match.

“If you are not contacted immediately, you may be contacted at a later date, as our staffing needs change. We appreciate your patience regarding the status of your application. We will retain your application on file for one year.

“Sincerely, The Human Resources Department, Dilwork Shop LLC.”

Two days later, I received another email. It states:

“Good morning! Did you sleep well? Am so sorry for the delay.

“I was bereaved and had to travel to Australia for my Dad’s funeral.

“Am contacting you regarding the Feedback Specialist Position you applied for recently.

“Am glad to inform you that your application has been processed, and your first assignment has been mailed out. It is due to arrive in the mail this weekend or on Monday.

“It is imperative you contact us for more details immediately (after) the assignment arrives. Do not forget that you’ll earn $200 per assignment.

“Kindly confirm (receipt of) this message and get back to me ASAP.”

My reply: “Thank you for approving my application. I will wait for the assignment.”

As promised, the package sent through Fedex arrived Monday (March 11). It was a thin package placed in a Fedex envelope as big as a regular brown envelope.

When it arrived, I was busy and I dropped it on a table. Later, I sent an email to “James Brewster,” telling him that I have just received the package.

When I was about to retire for the night, I opened the package. I was surprised to find out that it contained only one item – a check in the amount of $1,980.

Seeing the check, I felt a bit nervous. It is too good to be true. Why would a guy whom I don’t personally know give me a check for almost $2,000? I sensed that this is some kind of scam and I suspected that an evil is lurking somewhere ready to pounce on me.

Later at night, I received from “James Brewster” the following email:

“The company wants you to run a survey on a prominent store in your area — that is Money Gram. There have been reports about lapses in the services of their management and some of their staff. Their complaints were based on reports which their customers forwarded anonymously and phone calls which were also made to the Head Office. The Money Gram location was reported for evaluation, for the reasons that customers have reported their money missing, slow services and unbalanced transfer charges. Do you understand me?

“You are to transfer funds to another Feedback Specialist so as to observe the quality of their services. However, it is your responsibilities to observe and let us know how the agent treated you and how many minutes he or she uses to process the transaction for you. Before doing that, you are to deduct your commission of $200 from the funds received. The remainder is what you will use to complete the task. Please have the rest of the funds sent through Money Gram to: Annette Lohman @ 6106 Carmel Dr., Plainfield, IL 60586 USA. As soon as the fund is wired, you are to get back to me with the Reference Number, Sender’s name and address as well as the exact amount sent after Money Gram charges or fees.

“I look forward to receiving the above requested details soon and thank you for being our Feedback Specialist.”

The next morning, there was a follow-up message from “James.” It stated: “Good morning! Did you sleep well? I hope you got the assignment details I sent you earlier and am hoping that you’ll have the assignment completed today or first thing tomorrow morning as the case may be. Thank you.”

He wanted me to wire the money immediately. The check has yet to be deposited and cleared, but he wanted me to send quickly the money to the recipient. This means I would be wiring my own money to the supposed recipient “to complete the transaction.” The check could be fake or it could bounce.

I sent this reply: “I have to tell you that I was a little bit shocked when I found out that the package you had sent contained a check. I totally did not expect it. I was expecting that the package would contain brochures or flyers informing me about your company, the address of your company, the telephone and fax numbers of your company, people behind it, samples of the reviews done by specialists, its track record and other details.

“I was also surprised to find out that the package came from Hawaii.

“Without much information about your company, I am confused.

“I am now having second thought about this. And I am thinking it over. In the meantime, I would like to return your check. Please email your complete address so I can mail back the check. I hope you understand my situation.”

His immediate reply: “This is weird. Why would you want to return the check?”

My response: “I want to return the check because I am confused. And when I am confused, my natural reaction is to quit. Please email your complete address.”

After that, I received no more email from “James Brewster.”


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