Shooting fish in a bucket.

We strive to investigate the various emails we dissect in order to discover their intent and to expose the chicanery behind them.

For the most part they fall into one of several categories.

There are some which are promising to deliver cash in one form or another, such as inheritances, lottery winnings, misplaced boxes of cash, etc. All that is required is the payment of the shipping fees.

A second type is an attempt to trick the unsuspecting into revealing bank and credit card information and account passwords. These usually start out “Your account has been frozen” and so on.

Another category is theinvitation to business. These generally entail buying and selling goods on behalf of someone or, like today’s sample, mystery shopping.

Unlike today’s offering, the mystery shopper scam is not usually spelt out in detail in the initial contact letter.

While it is true that various organizations do, in fact, use mystery shoppers in their day-to-day routine, they seldom hire random individuals via anonymous email solicitations.

We recently had an acquaintance who was graded on his performance by an actual mystery shopper, who was an employee from a different branch of the same organization, not simeone solicited at random from the general population by anonymous email.

We were very surprised to get the following email, inquiring as to our availability as a mystery shopper, where the entire plan was laid out in advance.

Well, not surprised at the email, we get them constantly, but rather surprised at the detail contained therein.

From: Wal-Mart
Sent: Saturday, December 17, 2011 6:07 AM
Subject: Re: Job.

(The following came as an attachment)

Dear Applicant

It has always been our assumption that in order to qualify as an applicant, one must, at some previous point in time, have applied. We do not recall attempting to pursue a career at Wal-Mart. Perhaps they will allow us to apply retroactively. We shall see. In the meanwhile, addressing us by our name would have been a better way to start. Of course, they would have to know our name in order to do that, wouldn’t they. We digress.

   We are looking for qualified evaluators to help us check out our new services. These are the important aspect of your evaluation.

We assume that required qualifications are that the applicant is semi-literate and breathing. We suppose that being mobile enough to get to a Wal-Mart might help as well.

A Check/Moneyorder of between 800 – 2,850 dollars will be mailed out to you.

The post office has places a $1000 limit on money orders, Western Union has no actual limits. We can assume that they will not be having us evaluate the Post Office. It is also unusual that they are willing to flirt with actual mail fraud, one doesn’t often see that.

The funds have been calculated to cover both aspects of this survey. you will be allocated 100 dollars for the Walmart shopping section.

So, we will have $100 for Wal-Mart sent to us by Wal-Mart to evaluate Wal-Mart leaving a balance of $700 to $2750 for what? We wonder what they have in mind.

All you have to do is walk into any of its location buy, buy and buy till you exhaust the money provided for this section, but you have to be in the store for at least one hour, watching and taking note of everything.

We couldn’t spend an hour in Wal-Mart spending $100 if we were buying pennies. We suspect that something is amiss here.

Also, what is it that we are to be taking note of?

Remember that everything you buy is totally yours.

Since, while waiting for the check to clear, we are going to be spending our own money we would hope that whatever rare antiquities we purchased during our hour-long expedition to Wal-Mart would be totally ours.

The management of Walmart intends to change the store’s environment, color, gift items and shopping/carrier bags etc, we are also looking into putting a stop to poor services.

So, this is part of a greater effort to make Wal-Mart not Wal-Mart. Have we understood that correctly?

For this reasons we have decided to give their customers the opportunity to decide. 

Suddenly it occurs to us that we are probably not in communication with the upper echelons of Wal-Mart’s management team. We would have preferred either “this reason” or “these reasons“, probably favoring the latter. Secondly, would the customers not be “our customers” in this case?

NOTE: You are to keep the WalMart receipt of everything you buy to the report 

Since we suspect that we know where this is all leading to, keeping the receipt would be the only way to recoup a portion of the impending loss.

YOUR SECOND EVALUATION ( Between 600 – 2550 Dollars) 

So, now we come to the bigger issue. Noting the earlier figures, there appears to be $100 to $200 unaccounted for at this point in time.

The 2nd assignment Western union 

What a surprise, they want us to investigate Western Union. We wonder what it could possibly be that they might want us to do.

As you know we offer Money transfer services.

We? We thought you were Wal-Mart moment ago. Are you suddenly Western Union as well? We would have though that such a merger would have garnered some notice in the press.

A lot of Walmart customers have reported lapses in Money transfer services in some Walmart Stores around the U.S.

That is not surprising, Western Union and the Post Office are probably better equipped to handle money transfer services. Wal-Mart seems to be more qualified to sell consumer goods.

Our need to act is based on reports and complaints which some customers forwarded anonymously and phone calls that were made to our head office. 

What would be some of the other needs, if you don’t mind our asking?

We find that complaining anonymously to a store tends to interfere with any hopes of getting a refund. It makes it hard for them to address the check properly.

Agents locations were reported for evaluation for the following reasons
Slow services
Unbalanced exchange rate
Poor services
Rudeness to customers
Excess charge 

This makes sense, we suppose, but not enough to sway us as to the veracity of the proposal.


To make a transfer of funds from the location to our agent in another state with the remaining funds after you complete your first task.

Let us get this straight. We are to cash the money order and send most of it back to you via Western Union, after our grand and glorious $100 shopping spree.


If the true purpose of this test is to evaluate the money transfer ability of an organization which has been performing this task for over a hundred years, then we would request that you wire the funds to us in the first place.

We can then pick up the money, free from the fear that we have received a bogus check or counterfeit money order and can just as easily evaluate the cashiers ability to give us money as to take it from us.

We hardly think that the actual direction that the money os travelling in would have any great effect on the personality or demeanor of the clerk being scrutinized. We could even change our mind several times regarding the denominations of the bills. We could even attempt to enrage said clerk, should that be your desire. We are very good at being taxing.

In addition, we would have no qualms about sending the balance to you on a check which we could easily whip up in Photoshop, which you could then use to evaluate the ability of the Western Union personnel at your Wal-mart, which is undoubtedly located in Western Africa.

Funds would be picked up by our agent at the exact location which a customer reported his/her funds stolen from. 

Excuse us? We were given to believe that there was no risk involved here and suddenly we are in the middle of a criminal investigation, we find this very troubling.

You will have to record the time at which you got to the Western union store and how many minutes it took you to get the service. 

This is, of course, part of the scheme to make this all appear legitimate.

You will also provide me with the name of the cashier that attended to you along with the name of the WalMart store and address.

We are recording the address just in case the store has moved between your telling us where to go and our actually arriving there. We were not aware that Wal-Marts were migratory.

You will be paid a commission 200 dollars for completing both tasks.

The commission, we assume, is to be the portion of the bad check not spent at Wal-Mart or wired to who knows where.

Your report should be drafted and sent to me via email immediately the 2nd assignment has been completed.

Oh absolutely, we’ll get right on it.

Please make sure you reply to this email with the following information below :
First Name
Last Name
Street Address ( NO po box pls)
Zip Code
Cell Phone Number / Home Phone Number
Current Occupation:
Alternate Email Address
Days / Hours Available

If you don’t have any of the information you are requesting, on what did you base your assumption that we were either an applicant or somehow qualified?

Further instructions will be sent to you during the week via email.

We shall wait with bated breath.

Task Co-ordinator

Wonderful. Due to banking laws in the United States, banks are required to make the proceeds from checks and money orders available within a certain time frame. This time frame, however, is generally shorter that the time it would take for the check or money order to actually clear the bank. As a result, a week or two later, after the spending spree at Wal-Mart and the subsequent wiring f the funds, the bank will arrive at the realization that the check or money order was counterfeit.

At this point of the program, you would undoubtably find yourself visited by the local constabulary wishing to make your acquaintance and take you into custody for check fraud.

It would be handy to have the funds available to post your bail but sadly the bank will have reversed the entirety of the money order out of your account by this time, leaving you $800 to $2850 short, not including overdraft fees.

The only consolation you will have at this point will be your $100 collection of goodies from Wal-Mart unless they are confiscated as part of the process.

If you receive an invitation such as this (although they tend not to go into such detail), do yourself and Wal-Mart a favor. Delete it.

This is a Fraud.

That is all.


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