Recently I was contacted by a man who went by the name of Daniel Green. He said he worked for Kirkland Market Research and that they wanted to interview me for the position of Quality Assurance Surveyor (i.e. a secret shopper). He briefly went over the details of the position. During the probationary period a secret shopper gets paid $200 per assignment and can do up to six assignments a week. Once the probationary period is lifted, the shopper can accept as many as 15 assignments a week at $250 per assignment. Each assignment takes roughly two hours to complete.
I was taken in by the promise of a brief and flexible work week and very good money for what seemed like little and easy work. The perfect part-time job! Daniel scheduled an interview for me and here's where the first red flag went up. Kirkland Market Research is apparently situated in Markham, Ontario, yet Daniel seemed to have a lot of trouble with Canadian time zones. He didn't seem to be fully aware of the one-hour difference between Eastern and Atlantic Time (I live in Halifax). This suspicion was confirmed the next day when a woman supposedly from HR got a hold of me at 7:30 and not at 6:30 which was our scheduled time.
The woman conducted a 25 minute interview which seemed more or less legit. She asked all the usual questions, explained the position in detail and told me someone would get a hold of me in a few days. A red flag went up here as well when I asked her about the type of questions I was supposed to answer in my Quality Assurance Reports. She began to stumble, and she apparently didn't have a good answer to my question other than something she made up on the spot. I was getting suspicious at this point but I figured, Hey, she's sounds like she's new and maybe in her job she barely has any contact with these reports'. Basically, I was still lured in by the promise of a lot of money for easy part-time work and I saw no reason as of yet not to pursue this further.
A few days later I got a call from a man who identified himself as James McDermott. James told me that they wanted to hire me and that he would send the details of my employment contract and first assignment ASAP. I didn't hear back from him until the following Saturday when he called me to ask me to forward him my resume again because he had trouble opening it. Needless to say this sounded odd. Nobody ever had trouble opening my resume before and maybe even stranger was the fact that he called me on a Saturday afternoon. Oh well, people work overtime during the holidays I figured and maybe poor James isn't so quick with computers and he just doesn't have the Office 2007 compatibility pack installed (in retrospect of course these assumptions seem moronic).
The blindfold over my eyes wasn't fully lifted until I received my employment' contract and my first assignment. First of all, Kirkland MR requested of me to email them a scanned copy of my drivers license. Why would they need that? No other employer has ever asked this of me. Secondly, the only method of payment available was apparently direct deposit. Up until now, I'd always had the choice whether to get paid by cheque or direct deposit. The oddest thing however was the details of the assignment. Go to Future Shop and buy something for $100. Go to Tip Top Tailors and buy something for $100. Go to a Canada Post Office and send a $3, 475 MoneyGram transfer?! Something had to be up. There's no way any legitimate Market Research Company required one of the employees to handle $3, 500 in cash just to check the quality of customer service at a given post outlet. Why not just use the minimum amount of funds allowed for a money transfer?
I was supposed to call James to discuss the details of my assignment, particularly those of the MoneyGram transfer (big surprise). At this point I was sure this was a scam but I wanted to be absolutely certain. Sure enough, James explained to me that Kirkland was going to mail me a cheque for $4, 000 which I was supposed to cash. This money was for the two purchases and the money order and the rest was payment for me (wait a minute I thought I was only getting paid $200? ). On top of that, I was free to keep whatever I purchased. The only condition: The transactions had to be completed within 24 hours of cashing the cheque. Why? Let me explain the scam:
A poor sucker goes to the bank Monday morning after receiving his cheque in the mail and walks out with $4, 000 cash in his pocket. He fulfills the details of his assignment, sends the money order and goes home with a big smile on his face thinking this is the easiest money he's ever made. A short while later the bank contacts him and informs him that the $4, 000 cheque he cashed bounced and that he owes the bank said amount of money. The problem of course is that at this point the scamee doesn't have the money anymore because he already wired it to his new employer'. Not only that, but they also have a perfect copy of his drivers license, neatly scanned in digital format so it can be reproduced and/or altered. Oh, and did I forget to mention his banking information?
WARNING: These people Kirkland Market Research go to great lengths to seem legit. They have an actual website which doesn't even look that bad until you realize it lacks substance. They have a phone system. Their employment contract looks professionally designed. They have three people involved in this scam which further gives the impression that this is a real business. Of course, as I described above, they're not perfect at their craft and if you take the shining lure of great money for only two hours of work away, it actually becomes quite easy to spot this scam. But times are tough, jobs aren't exactly abundant and if someone tells you right before Christmas that you could be making good money you want to believe them and you'll probably overlook some odd behaviour and give your hopefully-future-employer' the benefit of the doubt.
Please don't fall for this scam or any variation of it. No employer will ever ask you to send a digital copy of your drivers license in an email; You'll always be given the choice between payment by cheque or direct deposit; Lastly, please use common sense. Why would a company need you to handle $3, 500 in cash just to asses the level of customer service during a routine money order?! It doesn't make any sense either for the employee or the employer unless one party had something to gain by it.
These people tried to scam me only a few days before Christmas. They obviously have no conscience and don't have a problem with trying to rip people off for large amounts of money even during the holidays. Please, don't let yourself be one of their victims.
Disappointed in halifax
Halifax, Nova Scotia