“Throw them away:” Be on the lookout for this secret shopper scam

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- As a mother of two, Sylvia Allen works hard to take care of her daughters, so she was thrilled when she got a secret shopper job offer in the mail.

"I showed my kids and they're all excited. 'Oh Mom, we're going to have Christmas early!'" Allen said.

The letter came from Javi Marketing. Inside the envelope was an offer for a part-time secret shopping job and a check for nearly $2,000. In order to get the money, Allen had to follow instructions included with the letter that guided her to go online and activate the check.

"The user ID and password they gave me - that's what I put in. It said, 'Congratulations Sylvia, your check is ready to go,'" Allen said.

After activating the check, Allen went to the Community Financial Service Center on South 27th Street to cash it, but walked out empty handed.

"Go to cash it and the lady's like, 'well, no -- this is not any good. I can't cash it,'" Allen said.

The check was fake and it was easy for the employee to spot that.

"(The employee said) 'at least four times a week somebody's coming in here with a check like this and we can't cash it,'" Allen said.

These secret shopping scams are happening nationwide. Scam artists send a counterfeit check hoping that people deposit it in their bank account. If they do, oftentimes the banks don't spot the fake check until after it's been cashed. By then, it's already too late. The money is already in the wrong hands, leaving the person who cashed it on the hook for the entire amount.

Luckily for Allen, her money is safe, but she turned to FOX6's Contact 6 to warn  others about this scam.

"I don't want to see anyone putting this in their bank account because if you do, it's over with," Allen said.

Allen says she has some advice for anyone who gets similar offers in the mail.

"Throw them away. Shred them. Get rid of them," Allen said.

That's some good advice that will save you from losing thousands.