People look for ways to earn extra money in the holiday shopping season, especially in a year when many people have lost their jobs. But at least one online work-from-home offer to be a "Secret Shopper" appears to be a money-losing deal.
NBC 5 employee Cynthia Garcia discovered an offer from Work Group Evaluation Services, but decided not to go through with it when the online application asked for her personal bank information.
"That's when the red flag went up," Garcia said.
Even though she didn't do any work for the company, she still received what appeared to be a real cashier's check in the mail supposedly drawn from an Ohio bank for $3,750.
The envelope was postmarked in Canada and contained a letter from Work Group Evaluation Services, which had a Seattle address.
The letter instructed her to go shopping with some of the money and keep some for her work, but return most of it by wire transfer.
The Fort Worth Better Business Bureau said such tactics are a common way to try and trick people out of money.
"Once your money leaves this country, it's gone," said Marie Pate, of the BBB. "Work-at-home schemes are real common, and this is just kind of a version of that."
Work Group Evaluation Services has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
The company did not respond to questions Tuesday.
The Ohio bank named on the cashier's check said it is counterfeit. Hundreds of other people have received fake checks from that Work Group Evaluation Services, too, the bank said.
Garcia knew better than to cash the check and said she has advice for others considering work-from-home "secret shopper" deals.
"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," Garcia said.
People can check out companies at these Web sites: