NEWS17 June 2009

Canadian man found guilty in $1m mystery shopping scam

Legal North America

CANADA— A 33-year-old man has been found guilty of fraud and other offences tied to the running of a mystery shopping scam involving counterfeit cheques.

Lookman Temidayo contacted people in the US from his home and told them they had been hired as mystery shoppers to evaluate MoneyGram’s international money transfer service.

The victims were sent counterfeit cheques, which they were told to deposit in their own bank account, before withdrawing money and sending it to Temidayo in Canada. When the cheques were identified as fakes, the banks reversed the deposits and victims were left out of pocket.

The Canadian Competition Bureau (CCB) led the investigation into Temidayo, and seized 600 counterfeit cheques totalling around $1m at his home in Ontario. He was found guilty of fraud over $5,000, forgery, possession of instruments of forgery and uttering forged documents. He will be sentenced in September.

CCB deputy commissioner of competition Andrea Rosen said: “Scams involving counterfeit cheques have become one of the most prevalent types of fraud in North America… These scams are a particular concern since they target unemployed people anxious to earn money in the current economic climate.”

Judi Hess, president of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, said: “The MSPA appreciates and applauds the efforts of the CCB to fight this scam and protect the victims it targets, along with protecting the validity and reputation of mystery shopping.”