On February 29th, 2020 a city resident advised the Watervliet Police Department of a potential internet scam. The resident had signed up for an online “secret shopper research survey”. This “research survey” involves the participant receiving a fraudulent check in the mail along with detailed instructions how to complete this survey. Potential participants are promised to be compensated $400.00 for completing the survey.

Participants are first instructed to deposit the fraudulent check into their personal bank account. Participants are told they are evaluating local Wal-Mart stores by purchasing a number of Wal-Mart gift cards. Contact information is provided to participants to obtain further instructions detailing where to send the purchased gift cards.

The Watervliet Police Department would like to warn residents that scams like this one are extremely common. Scams can appear in many forms, usually originating from a phone call, email, or online advertisement. If an email or internet ad seems odd or “too good to be true”, they usually are. Warning signs can include unsecured websites, payments involving gift cards, the promise of a monetary prize, spelling/ font errors in emails or advertisements, emails from unknown sources, etc.

If you believe you have been victimized by a fraudulent scam you should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency. If you believe your banking information may have been compromised, you should immediately contact your bank to put a hold on any accounts and flag any unfamiliar purchases. If you believe any of your personal information such as your social security number has been compromised, you should contact the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.