1 arrested in mystery shopper e-mail scam

TREDYFFRIN TWP., Pa. - September 15, 2010

An 82 year old businessman from Tredyffrin Township is embarrassed over the incident, but wanted to warn others.

"They sent me an e-mail and said, 'Do you want to be a mystery shopper?" the victim said.

It's the latest scam on the internet these days, but our victim didn't know it.

Scam artists purporting to represent marketing companies looking for people who want to make easy money being mystery shoppers.

"'We'll pay you $200 for every transaction and all you have to do is go in to certain places and do it,'" the victim said.

This victim decided to do it. Ultimately, they sent him what he thought was and certainly looked like a cashier's check for $3,300. He was to deduct the $500 he was owed and wire the difference $2,800 to a certain name and person, but this victim thought he'd be shrewd.

"I waited until I thought the check had cleared and I even called the bank, Chase bank over in New Jersey, to see if it had been paid and they said it had been paid," the victim said.

So he sent $2,800 from his account as he was instructed to do. But a few days later, as the cashier's check worked its way through the banking system, it was discovered to be a fake.

"It completely destroyed everything in my account…$3,000 worth of checks," the victim said.

It took 5 months of legwork by Tredyffrin Police Detective Todd Bereda to track down one of a number of culprits believed involved in the scam, Sheila Oletta Myers of La Plata, Maryland.

Myers was arrested on August 31st. Approximately $110,000 worth of counterfeit checks was secured along with computers and check making materials.

The victim learned a painful lesson and has this advice for anyone who gets an e-mail promising easy money.

"Throw it away, don't respond to it," the victim said.

Myers is being held on $25,000 bail.

Police say Myers is part of an international network with connections to China, Vietnam, Canada, Ecuador, England and others that has targeted real estate agents, the elderly and others through the use of the internet and attempting to lure victims in to becoming "mystery shoppers".

Residents are asked to report fraud to their local police and/or the US Postal Inspection Service.

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