Editor's note: This article, originally published Wednesday, has been updated throughout after Darien Patch asked for additional information from Darien police.
A Darien woman was convinced that she had been hired as a "mystery shopper" to help evaluate the performance of Western Union employees, but it turned out that scam artists were using her to get $1,740.
Here's how Darien Police say the scam worked:
On Jan. 16, the woman received an email offer to be a mystery shopper for Market Force Inc. (which may be a legitimate company, although it wasn't who contacted her).
She responded to an online application and was then contacted by email. The job description she received told her that she would be paid to evaluate the job performance of employees at Western Union.
Her assignment was to receive a check from Market Force Inc., deposit it in her personal bank account and then send the money—minus her $250 payment—via Western Union to someone in the company.
On about Jan. 23, her first assignment came in, and a check for $1,990 soon followed. She deposited the check, kept $250 and sent off $1,740 back to the company.
On Jan. 29, she received her next assignment and a check for the same amount. She deposited it in her bank account and again sent $1,740 through Western Union.
And then it all fell apart.
The woman was notified by bank personnel that the most recent check she received was bogus. And that the check she had previously deposited was also bogus.
She was able to reverse the second transaction with Western Union, except for $250 in transaction fees. But she couldn't get any money sent to her from either of the bogus checks, so she lost the money she sent out.
Police said neither her bank nor Western Union lost any money, but the Darien woman lost a total of $1,990.
All of the contact information she had been sent by the scam artists turned out to be invalid.
"A check with the Better Business Bureau revealed a mystery shopper scam using the name Mystery Force, Inc. with the scam methodology appearing very similar," according to the police news release. "It appears that the scam artists may be using the names of legitimate businesses in order to gain credibility."