FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --If you're looking to earn a little extra money US Postal Inspectors said you should be wary of mystery shopper opportunities you may see online. People are falling victim to thieves involved in a counterfeit check scam.
"I was looking to make a little bit of extra money because I was only working part-time at an Air and Space Museum," said Jerry Peterson, fraud victim.
So when Peterson saw an online ad for a mystery shopper job he applied-- giving them his name, address, and number.
"One day, I get this priority mail package with this letter saying congratulations, you know, we've accepted you as a secret shopper."
Inside the envelope was a check for $3,830, as well as detailed instructions on where to go and what to do.
He was told to go to Staples and Office Depot and spend a combined $180, keep $400 for himself and immediately wire the rest of the money back. Timing is key in counterfeit check schemes.
"They want you to deposit this check, quickly withdraw the funds before the bank realizes this check is counterfeit," said Rob Barnett, US Postal Inspector.
Then, the victim is responsible for all the money lost. When Jerry discussed the package with his wife, they quickly realized it was a scam. Then, they called police.
"He immediately goes, 'this is a fraud-- oh yeah.' I'm like, 'have you seen this before?' And he said, 'I see this every day.'"
Jerry did nothing. Then, he started getting calls.
"About a week later, I was getting at least two phone calls a week asking me have I finished my assignment yet."
His experienced advice is simple.
"Don't do anything until you talk to someone that you can trust."
If you are ever suspicious about a package or check you receive in the mail, you can take them to a local post office or call a local postal inspector for guidance.