February 2, 2016 1:24 am
Updated: February 2, 2016 1:56 am

$500 for free? If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is

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An Okanagan woman is speaking out about a secret shopper scam after her teenage daughter was nearly duped.

Tanya Schilling’s 19-year-old daughter received a letter in the mail to become a secret shopper. Inside included a letter of instructions and a cheque for nearly $2,500.

“He wanted me to go to Walmart, spend a hundred bucks, then go to Western Union, transfer $1,950 and send it to a Julie Forget in Mexico,” says Schilling.

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She called back the scam artist, whose number was on the letter, but he continued to claim the deal was legitimate.

So Schilling took it one step further and took the phony cheque to the bank, where the teller confirmed her suspicions.

But if a bank teller doesn’t spot a fake cheque, it’s the member of the public on the hook for the cash. Schilling says she was informed by the bank that if the cheque is accepted but later bounces, she would have to reimburse the bank for the money. Even if it’s been years since the cheque cleared, if at any point it is caught as being fake, the person who deposited it has to pay up.

Schilling also reported the fraudster to RCMP, who she says told her to call Fraud Canada – but when she did, Fraud Canada told her to call police.

Schilling wants to get the story out so no one ends up getting scammed.

“I feel really badly for people that are going to get screwed over,” she says. “It frustrates me to no end.”

Schilling doesn’t know how the scam artist got all her daughter’s information, but is happy she figured out the payout was too good to be true before it was too late.

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