NEWS29 November 2011

Polaris warns of mystery shopping scam

North America

US— Polaris Marketing Research has warned people to watch out for a mystery shopping scam operating under the company’s name.

People who have received mailings purporting to be from Polaris and other research companies containing a cheque for nearly $2,000 and inviting them to take part in a mystery shopping exercise should not respond, the company said.

“This scam has been going on for several years and, despite our efforts and the efforts of other companies who have been victimised in this same scam, we have been unable to stop it,” said Polaris president Jan Carlson. “It is especially dangerous during the holidays with so many people vulnerable because of our difficult economic situation… As usual, you probably can’t go wrong using the policy ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.”

Atlanta-based Polaris, a full-service agency founded in 1989, says it has “absolutely no ties or relationships” with the organisation sending out these mailings, which appear to originate in Canada.

Polaris did not specify the exact nature of the scam. Cheque-based mystery shopping scams typically involve asking someone to make a money transfer, supposedly to evaluate the experience, in exchange for a cheque for a larger amount. By the time the victim finds out that the cheque has not cleared, the scammers already have their money.

People who have received a mailing claiming to be from Polaris about mystery shopping can report it to the US Postal Inspection Service online or by phone at 877 876 2455.