Pinecone Research Scam Alert
We’ve just been made aware of an alleged Pinecone Research Scam. We wanted to bring this to your attention so that you can avoid being tricked into something like this.
It is important to note: this was NOT facilitated by Pinecone Research. The scam email was sent by people attempting to steal information and money, not by Pinecone. Pinecone has posted an alert on their website, warning members to steer clear of scenarios like this.
Basically, a scammer contacted our reader and offered a mystery shopper job. They pretended to be Pinecone Research, so it seemed legit. They sent a check and eventually the check bounced, but only after the victim gave the money to the scammers. (In this scenario, she read the numbers from the back of a gift card – effectively giving them the ability to spend the amount on the card.) Then, when the check bounced, the victim was left having to make up for the check amount AND out the money.
In short: do NOT fall for wire-fraud scams such as this. From the old Nigerian 419 Scam and Western Union fraud to this new way to scam with a fake check, it all comes down to them sending you funds that do not clear. You are left with bank fines and worse.
And finally, this was NOT Pinecone Research. Pinecone is a legitimate survey company I’ve been working with for years. Someone pretended to be Pinecone to send this “personal shopper” invite and do this scam. Pinecone had nothing to do with it. If you are offered something you’re unsure about, please feel free to contact us. And, scroll down to find out how to report scams to the proper authorities.
From a fan:
I just realized that I was scammed by Pinecone Research. I got an email to be a secret shopper. I followed the instructions to fill gift cards and send them the cards info after I cashed their check. I didn’t question the company because you guys are always promoting them. They sent me a check from Scott on the envelope. I cashed the check and it cleared so I thought its ok. I did the assignment and sent them the feedback that they requested and the numbers on the back of the card. I thought that this was your were suppose to do. I was excited for an opportunity to be a mystery shopper. My husband is in the reserves and his income doesn’t pay enough for us to live and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for me to generate some income. Needless to say, the check has been returned and for a family who is one a one income tight budget my account is now negative $1350.00. If you can give me some advice I would appreciate. I realized that I myself should have googled them instead of relying on blogs such as yours and other money saving blogs as proof that you guys have researched the companies that you are promoting. I think that you should let others know of this scam. Because of this my mortgage won’t be paid next month. After getting the notification that the check was returned I googled them and found several complaints about people being scammed in this. I feel taken advantaged of and used. I also feel stupid that I trusted consumer blogs that help other people out with advice and companies. If I would have done my own research like I normally would have done, I could have avoided this. You are not the only blog that I am sending this to. I am sending this to every blog that sponsors the this company. Please help if you can.
The following warning is posted on the Pinecone Research website:
Important Security Notice:
We have been made aware that third parties may be attempting to use the names and logos of Pinecone Research for different “scams.” One example of such a scam is a “mystery shopping” assignment. Essentially, the victim is provided a fake check and advised to cash it, and then use some of the proceeds to test a service (for example, testing a Western Union wire transfer). The victim is advised that he or she may retain the balance from the cashed check as payment, however, the check later bounces. Other examples include recruiting for “business evaluation surveys” or “hiring” employees.
Please be aware that Pinecone Research has no involvement in these fraudulent transactions. Participating in our surveys is always free of charge, and we never ask our panelists to cash a check for a large amount and then use the proceeds to “test” a service. Furthermore, all communications with us will always be with the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” — be wary of any email that asks you to respond to a different address, or asks you to respond by clicking on a link within the email. (Please be aware that email sending addresses can be faked, and so it’s possible for a fake email to appear to have come from this address.)
If you are targeted by any of these scams, please report any information regarding these activities to local law enforcement agencies, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “econsumer.gov” reporting system (https://econsumer.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/) in the United States or the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (http://www.phonebusters.com/) in Canada.