Mayor Roefaro warning residents of scam involving Ebay

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica officials are warning residents of scam due to numerous complaints called into the Mayor's office.

According to Utica Mayor David Roefaro, scams involving the site Ebay and targeting people in need of a job have affected some people in the area.

Many retail and service corporations hire paid evaluators to perform random checks on their own company or a competitor and scammers are using this premise to lay the groundwork to rip Uticans off. Victims are reporting that they are being contacted via phone and mail and are asked to apply to be a 'mystery shopper.'

Applicants are asked to send a resume and fill out a form authorizing a background check before being offered the position of 'mystery shopper.'

Applicants are then notified that they have passed the background check and awarded the job. Then, they are sent a check. With the check, come instructions on how to evaluate a store, how much time to spend in each isle, and methods on what products to focus on.

The second evaluation is the ease and accuracy of wiring money from the retail location. The money to be wired is included in the check sent to the 'employee.' The remaining balance after the wire transfer is the employee's payment for completing the assignment.

After merchandise is purchased and money is wired, the employees are advised that they have cashed a counterfeit check, and are subsequently responsible for the money lost and the bank fees for cashing the fraud check.

In the EBAY version of this scam, the criminal offers to purchase your item and sends you a check, over the amount you listed.

They ask you to cash it, and then wire them back the amount of money owed to them.

After wiring the money, the victim is contacted by the banking institution and held responsible. In some cases, and here in Utica, the victims have been arrested, thought to play a part in the scam.

Mayor Roefaro is urging all residents to avoid filling out forms that ask for personal financial information, and to be cognizant that Uticans are being targeted.

The mayor also says there are legitimate secret shopper programs, but that you should research their legitimacy before sending them your information. Legitimate companies do not charge an application fee and will accept applications online.

Mayor Roefaro has also been provided with forms from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office for residents who feel they have been a victim of this type of scam.

The forms are available in the Mayor's office. The mayor will even mail your form for you.

"It's sad that criminals are using the bad economy to entice people. I will do all I can to ensure that Uticans impacted by this scam are assisted by our local and state policing agencies," the mayor said. He added, "I have no problem assisting people who may be embarrassed, either. I'll even mail their victim form."

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