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FSCO warns insurers, consumers about mystery shopper scam


November 8, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is warning insurers and consumers about a “mystery shopper scam” being conducted by an entity that is using the name of a legitimate United States mystery shopping company, A Closer Look/A Closer Look Inc., without authorization.

Computer keyboard with red scam buttons and magnifying glassFSCO said in a statement on Tuesday that this company has sent out letters and cheques that appear to be from Desjardins Financial Security to people, citing payment for a mystery shopper program for Western Union. Desjardins Financial Security is the life and health insurance arm of Desjardins Group.

According to FSCO, the letter asks consumers to activate the cheque and transfer funds through Western Union to evaluate their services. These appear to be fraudulent cheques and are not authorized by Desjardins, nor is Desjardins affiliated with A Closer Look Inc. These cheques will not clear, and individuals will not be able to recover the sum transferred, FSCO warned

This type of scam is a version of an advance fee fraud, FSCO reported. “Consumers should exercise caution if they are contacted by anyone from these coordinates and are encouraged not to deposit the cheque or contact the company. Instead, forward copies of the materials received to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

“Other insurance companies may potentially become targets as well,” the regulator warned.

On April 29, FSCO issued another mystery shopper scam warning, this time related to My Shop Ltd. and Mystery Global Survey Group. The regulator reported that the two companies had sent letters and cheques bearing Intact Insurance’s name and logo to individuals, citing payment for a mystery shopper assignment. The two companies ask people to deposit a cheque, keep a portion of the money in their account as payment and wire a sum of money to another person’s account. However, like the most recent scam, the cheque will not clear and the individuals cannot recover the sum transferred.

FSCO’s website contains a list of all insurance companies and agents licensed to do business in Ontario.