COLORADO SPRINGS — Most of us have heard the saying "there's no such thing as free money". So when a Colorado Springs woman received a random check in the mail from a company she had never heard of, she asked News5 to look into it.
The check this homeowner received in the mail for thousands of dollars is all part of a "Secret Shopper" gift card scam which appears to be targeting Coloradans again. This information is now in the hands of the Colorado Attorney General's office and its investigators.
"What got to me was, since I had done secret shopping 15-20 years ago. I went, first of all no one sends you a check for $2,540. That's odd," said Nancy Chedsey, a News 5 viewer and long time Colorado Springs resident.
Nancy showed us what came in the unexpected package that arrived at her Colorado Springs home. Along with that check, there were directions to go buy Vanilla prepaid Mastercards, basically gift cards, and to deposit the check.
Based on our previous coverage of similar packages sent to consumers in our area, Nancy believed it was a scam.
"That's why I called you Patrick. I'm worried. I know people are out there hurting. They are trying to get their mortgages paid, their rent paid and suddenly you get a check for $2,540 it's mana from heaven and it's not mana from heaven. It's daggers," said Chedsey.
The letter in the package also lists a company name, "Preception Strategies", this is a legitimate company that does healthcare secret shopping, but you'll find on it's website an important disclaimer that reads: "Important notice to shoppers: Perception strategies will not mail you advance payment or ask you to deposit a check and then send pre-paid cards back to the company. This is a scam and not affiliated with Perception Strategies in any way."
After this discovery, Nancy made a detailed scam complaint to the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
As a former secret shopper, Nancy pointed out another red flag she identified based on her experience.
"It said go to a Walmart, but it didn't say which one. Secret shopping they tell you specifically which store to go to because that's the store manager or district manager who has ordered a secret shopper to go to a specific place. Then, it said if you don't have a Walmart, just go to a store. That doesn't work with secret shopping either," said Chedsey.
Nancy didn't lose any money in this situation, but hopes her experience will help warn others.
"I think we all have to protect eachother. If we don't have eachother's back we're going to see our neighbors get hurt and if they get hurt, they hurt us and the more the scammers get away with it the more and more we're going to get," said Chedsey.
The Colorado Attorney General's Office is looking into this situation and we'll update you when we learn more.
If you have a question and would like to reach News 5 Investigates visit https://www.koaa.com/about-us/contact-news5/news5-investigates-contact