POSTED: 9:50 p.m. HST, Dec 22, 2011
Kauai police are warning the public about scams relating to a "mystery shopper program" and being selected as a "contest winner."
In the first scam, residents receive a letter encouraging them to enroll in a mystery shopper program as a "customer service evaluator." The company claims to pay for the evaluation of employees of various businesses, police said.
The victim is sent a check as payment for services and to cover the cost of the first assignment, which is to evaluate the performance of a Western Union agent.
The victim is told to wire money from a personal checking account using the Western Union service.
Usually after wire transferring the money, the victim learns that the company's original check was fraudulent.
Another scam begins with an email claiming to be from Shell Petroleum. The email says the victim has been chosen as the winner of a monetary award and tells the victim to call an agent to claim the prize money. The agent then tells the victim to send a personal check for an undisclosed amount in order to be eligible for the prize money.
Once the personal check is cashed, the company becomes unreachable.
"Never send money to a person or company you don't know," Capt. Kaleo Perez of the Kauai Police Department's Investigative Services Bureau said in a news release. "If someone sends you money, usually in the form of a check, in exchange for your personal check, it's quite certain to be a scam."
If you suspect a scam, call police. Police also suggested researching a company you intend to do business with by calling the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at 587-3222 or going to businesscheck.hawaii.gov online.