Security Corner

Aug 18 2010   1:57AM GMT

Beware This American Consumer Opinion Imposter

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

You get an envelope in the mail from American Consumer Opinion. Enclosed is a letter that starts like this:

Congratulation!!! You have been selected to participate in a paid Consumer Research Program. As one of the people selected to represent our firm; you will be acting as a Customer service Evaluator of selected Companies in your area.

There’s a check enclosed along with a “Customer Service Evaluation Form“. In this case, the check was for $1,895.00 made payable to a family member. Looks real and probably is real check security paper. The check is shown above. You can see a full-size version here.

It’s completely bogus. That should be obvious from the start. Misspelled words, improper capitalization, and using a semicolon as a comma just screams “I no speak English.” The supposed contact person, Mr. Chris Nelson, is later referred to in this manner: “. . . you contact Mr. Chris for activation.” Again, another mistake.

Further along in the letter are “instructions” on what to do: “CASH WITHDRAWAL $1,645 Your survey payment is $250; keep that in your account.” If you look at the letter, you’ll see $1,435.00 listed as “SURVEY FOR WESTERN UNION Receipt required.” Presumably, “Mr. Chris” is going to explain to you where you’re supposed to wire that money.

So, if you fall for this scam, assuming you have sufficient money in the bank to make the cash withdrawal before the check clears, you’ll wire $1,435 plus wire fees to someone and you’ll go shopping as instructed with the rest, thinking you just made an easy $250. A few days later, the “check” bounces and the bank debits your account. You’ve just been robbed.

I spoke with my banker about this earlier today and she told me that I would be surprised at how many people fall for these things. She sees them all the time. Of course, I’m not the least bit surprised.

Thank heaven my family member called me first.

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