Beware of ‘mystery shopping’ wire scam

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A SCAM to con people out of their cash has been uncovered.

But Hawick woman Susan Heatley said that when she initially reported it to the police, nobody returned her call.

The ‘mystery shopper’ scheme appeared in both the Hawick News and sister paper the Southern Reporter as well as other newspapers across the country.

Mrs Heatley explained that it came from the hiring manager, David Buffham, from a company called Shoppers Guide, and asked for volunteers to appraise a West-ern Union branch, a restaurant and a ‘moneygram’ following complaints from customers.

She said: “I saw it in the Southern at first and I thought it sounded good. It didn’t give any details, just an email address to reply to.

“To be honest, as soon as I got the reply, I thought ‘aye right’ because I could tell by reading it that something wasn’t right and I’ve seen scams like this before.”

In a lengthy description of the role, volunteers are told they will be paid £285 per assignment and will have to then wire money from a Western Union outlet.

Mrs Heatley said they were encouraged to process as many assignments as possible.

“They’re getting you thinking that if you work quickly then the more money you make. While the cheque clears you just use your own money to make the transfers, but then the cheque bounces,” she said.

In one instance, police said a man who agreed to participate wired money to South Africa, resulting in a four-figure sum being lost from his account.

But Mrs Heatley revealed that when she reported it to the authorities, she received a poor response.

“I called Crimestoppers twice and both times I left a message with a full description,” she said. “But I never heard anything and I left my name and contact details. I thought I was doing the right thing because I was worried somebody was going to get caught out by this.”

However, police have continued to urge anyone to report these scams if they see them again.

A police spokesman said: “People should remember that if an opportunity to make large sums of money seems too good to be true, it probably is, and anyone who believes they have been a victim of this or similar scams should contact police immediately.”

Anyone with any information can contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131.