Secret shopper scheme targeting unsuspecting victims by using well-known companies

Woman targeted by "secret shopper" offer

The names of two big companies are being used to get thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting victims.

Wendy Fuchs noticed something wasn’t quite right with two packages she received in the mail.

“I just felt like it was suspicious,” said Fuchs.

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Inside the first package was a letter from “Nationwide Marketing Research Program” congratulating her on her first mystery shopping assignment – except there’s one problem.

“I did not do one about being a secret shopper for anybody, so I knew that was a red flag,” said Fuchs.

Days later she got another package this time from Manpower Group Solutions.

Both packages included checks, one was for nearly $3,000 and the other for almost $5,000.

It was money she was to use to purchase gift cards or as payment to complete survey evaluations.

“I feel like it’s trying to target people during the holidays, because you know with the holidays coming up people are looking for ways to make extra money,” said Fuchs.

Both checks were fake and neither came from Nationwide or Manpower Group Solutions.

One of the checks Fuchs received looked real to the naked eye until Action News Jax adjusted the contrast on its camera that revealed the word “void” plastered all over the check.

The Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker showed 61 results of a similar scheme spanning three years in the Jacksonville area. Unlike Fuchs, some people lost a lot of money.

Fuchs said she also got text messages urging her to deposit the check followed by an email.

Whoever is behind the packages had her address, cellphone number, and email.

“We haven’t even lived here that long we just moved here in August so you know for it to already be showing up for them to obtain that information it’s scary,” said Fuchs.

Tom Stephens of Northeast Florida BBB said whoever is behind this likely bought her information.

“There have been data breaches all over the world basically and there is a dark web where that stuff is available," said Stephens.

Fuchs is speaking out to warn others.

“I just don’t want that to happen to anybody especially around the holidays it’s not fair,” said Fuchs.

Action News Jax reached out to Nationwide and Manpower Group.

Nationwide had not heard of this until we called and is now looking into it.

Manpower Group sent Action News Jax the following statement:
"This is not a legitimate ManpowerGroup communication. We never ask our candidates to pay for our services and we never ask them to deposit money. We report fraudulent use of our name by impersonators to the authorities and take this very seriously. We would urge anybody who has received a communication they are unsure of to contact their local branch to check it is legitimate."

Nationwide sent Action News Jax the following statement:
"Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Nationwide did not send the package to your viewer, and it is in no way connected to Nationwide or our affiliates. Nationwide does not participate in solicitation programs like this. Nationwide is aware of attempts to use our name fraudulently, and we take these incidents seriously. We encourage anyone else who receives a similar package or is suspicious of any communication allegedly from Nationwide to contact our Office of Customer Advocacy at 1-800-882-2822, ext. 249-6985 or OfficeofCustomerAdvocacy@nationwide.com. Further, we have provided additional information about this and similar scams at this link."