Jacksonville woman warns of Walmart ‘secret shopper' scam

A Jacksonville woman is warning others after she was nearly scammed.

The scammers told her she’d been selected as a “secret shopper” to evaluate Walmart and Western Union.

The woman got a priority mail envelope containing a letter and what appeared to be a money order for $998.

“Shoot, I’d try to see if it’s real,” said Walmart shopper Elvis Albertie.

The letter instructed the woman to cash the $998 money order, deduct a commission of $100, use $20 to purchase items at Walmart and then use $50 to transfer $828 to a Texas address through Western Union.

“You just hear about so many (scams) that are happening now on the news via phone calls and the mail, that I don’t trust anything anymore. Yeah, my red flag is up on that kind of stuff,” said Walmart shopper Kristy Kerins.

Stephanie Conrad said she got a similar Walmart “secret shopper” email recently, but quickly realized it was a scam.

“At first, I was excited because I thought that was something good to do. I’m retired, and it would be good little extra money,” said Conrad. “I was disappointed. I felt kind of used.”

This is such a common scam that Walmart devotes an entire section of its website to it.

The website says Walmart does not pay secret shoppers or hire third-party consultants to pay secret shoppers.

Walmart’s website said the scammers’ checks and money orders are fake, so when it they bounce after the money has already been wired, the sender is accountable to the bank for the entire amount plus penalty fees.

If you suspect you've been a victim of a secret shopper wire transfer scam, you can fill out the online complaint form, call 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947) for English or 1-800-955-7777 for Spanish.

If you believe you got a fraudulent email claiming to be from Walmart, the company asks that you send the email to OnlineAbuse@walmart.com as an attachment.

Victims of internet fraud should file a report with their local law enforcement agency and with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (or ICCC, which is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.