SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Pittsfield woman has narrowly avoided losing thousands of dollars in a mystery shopper scam.

Now, she wants to warn others who may be contacted about the same scheme.

It's a scam involving phone numbers from four different states, correspondence from three different names, and a realistic looking check for $3,500.

The woman we spoke with told us she became suspicious of this mystery shopper scam just in the nick of time.

"I was supposed to let them know how well the person checking me out did with a money wire transfer," said Rachel Pacquette.

Pacquette said that she was excited when she signed up for a mystery shopper opportunity that had been sent to her business phone.

"They told me there would be something in the mail coming overnight through FedEx and it would be a check in the amount of $3,500...wanted me to put the cashiers check in my account. I was supposed to keep $500 of it to myself and the other $3,000 wants to go to them," Pacquette explained

However, the adage 'too good to be true' proved it's worth yet again when she received new, updated directions from a person claiming to be the program's coordinator.

"They wanted me to buy Walmart cards in the increments of $100, $200 and $500. They want me to scratch the PIN number off the back, then they wanted me to take a picture and text it to the phone number," Pacquette said.

Looking closer at the packaging and correspondence, things weren't adding up.

"All of the names are different from my coordinator that texted me, to the original number that texted me, the number on the cashier's check, the number on the shipping package...and they're from four different states. I called the bank, I talk to somebody, I gave them my concerns and I gave them the check number," Pacquette said.

We reached out to the Michigan bank from where Pacquette's check appears to have been sent. A bank employee confirmed to us over the phone that none of their check numbers begin with '68' and that they've received numerous complaints about counterfeit checks made out to that exact amount.

"Federal law is that you get provisional temporary credit after a few days," said Bentley University professor and scam expert Steve Weisman.

Weisman said that temporary credit on a cashier's check doesn't mean a check has cleared.

"When the check ultimately bounces, that credit is taking away from your account," Wiseman explained.

Weisman said that while legitimate mystery shopper jobs do exist, he said "they never put ads for people to respond to, they never contact you by text message."

In Walmart's case, they've dedicated a page on their website explaining that they don't hire mystery shoppers through phone, text, mail, or email.

"Neither of them would talk to me. One sent me to a voice box that was full and the other one he said I can't talk, just text," Pacquette noted.

We wanted to see for ourselves, calling every single number provided to Pacquette, and couldn't reach a person, or in some cases, even a voicemail.

"I have four young children, so I don't have the extra money to throw away, so it's not right and something needs to be done about it," Pacquette said.

Pacquette said that in addition to calling the bank, she also reported the incident to Walmart directly.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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