Americans lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year to investment fraud and one mesa county woman came close to losing thousands herself.
The woman says she was victimized by a scammer and says people need to hear her story to avoid walking into a financial trap themselves, even one as tempting as this.
"The public should know that this is going on."
This Mesa County woman, who we'll refer to as "Judy", was looking for a way to make some extra cash when she stumbled across a mystery shopping company online.
"I was like well that sounds interesting, I mean I go shopping all the time, so that might be fairly easy to do…well too easy to find out."
Mystery shopping programs are used by companies to measure the quality of service or products.
Mystery shoppers follow company instructions, rate the service, and are rewarded with cash.
But before she even went shopping, Judy says she received a strange check in the mail.
"It looked weird to me, the label looked like it had been ripped on replaced, it was damaged, it looked like it had been opened," said Judy.
Better Business Bureau officials told us that legitimate programs will never send you any type of payment before you do your shopping. They will however, ask for you to send money back to them.
Connie Quillen of the Better Business Bureau said, "You will receive a check that looks very official often times it's a legitimate business name, it will be with a letter, the letter will say we want to take two hundred dollars of this, and go to your local department store and shop, we want to rate their customer service, we want to wire the remaining one thousand dollars back."
Local better business bureau officials say they receive ten to twenty calls about mystery shopping scams a day- it's one of the top ten most popular scams in the country.
"All of these scams you’re going to find one thing in common, send the rest back to me," said
Fortunately, Judy sensed something was wrong and approached law enforcement for help.
Judy said, "Sheriffs department didn't seem even interested, because they thought it seemed like a lost cause to them."
"It's a goose chase. Typically we don't know where to start because the information they gave her in the first place isn't accurate," said Spokesperson for the Sheriffs Office, Heather Benjamin.
The sheriff's office says it's unfortunate, but uncovering a scam artist is rare. The only answer is to be ready when they come knocking on your door.
"Any of us are capable of being taken advantage of," said “Judy”.