Kroger shopper: I was targeted by a secret shopping hoax

Kroger shopper: I was targeted by a secret shopping hoax
A woman thought she was going to participate in a Kroger secret shopper program but instead was sent a fake letter and check. (Source: NBC12)
Woman receiving a check for $2,450 (Source: NBC12)
Woman receiving a check for $2,450 (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A woman living in Richmond thought she was going to participate in a Kroger secret shopper program but instead was sent a fake letter and check.

A few Fridays ago, Linda Higgins went shopping at her local Kroger in the Bellgrade shopping center. When she got home, as she was unpacking her groceries, she received a call from a person she believed to be a Kroger employee. They asked her if she was willing to participate in a Secret Shopper program.

Higgins believed the phone call was legitimate since the caller had her name, phone number, and address because the Kroger she shops at had recently changed up their store shelves and because she had just been to Kroger and swiped her Kroger card.

"I figured, 'Ok, I will get what you normally get when you do a secret shopper thing,' " Higgins said. "I'll get an envelope and in it, there will be a gift card for like 50 bucks with a list of a few things you want me to pick up."

But there was a lot more than $50 and a list in the envelope Higgins received.

"In the mail came this package with this check for $2,450," Higgins said.

As Higgins read the write up attached, she started seeing more red flags. "The write up tells you to cash the check," Higgins said.

It then proceeds to encourage the secret shopper to purchase items at places like CVS or Best Buy, stores that are in no way associated with Kroger.

"You were then supposed to purchase money orders and send money to these money orders," Higgins said. "And of course, I quickly figured out what they would do, the check wouldn't clear and then they'd take the money."

For days, a number with a New York area code texted Higgins asking if she'd begun the secret shopper process. She only responded once saying she was waiting for the check to clear.

NBC12 called that same number and it has since been disconnected. NBC12 called three other numbers listed on the letter and no one answered any of them. We left messages. We also emailed an email address on the letter and haven't received an email back.

It's still unclear who is behind this scheme but Higgins says she's come forward to make others aware.

"I work with people who are elderly and get scam stuff all the time so it's always helpful for people to know," Higgins said.

NBC12 reached out to Kroger but haven't heard back.

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