Franklin, Va. - A Franklin man is in debt and out of the money he desperately needed for dental surgery after scam artists targeted him in a mystery shopper scam.
"It came in a FedEx envelope, looked very legit," said Frank Bright of a $1600 check from a so-called Dennis Garner. "It wound up being a nightmare."
Bright's financial plight began with good intentions. The disabled veteran logged onto Craigslist to find some work-at-home opportunities.
"I saw this ad for a mystery shopper, so I went ahead and signed up," he said. "Everything seemed legit off the top."
"About three, four days later, I received a check in the mail," he said.
Bright deposited the check, and received instructions from Garner with Precision Research to keep $200 as his fee and wire $1450 back to an address in the Philippines.
"Something started going off in my head. This doesn't sound right," he remembered.
Bright didn't wire the money, but Navy Federal Credit Union flagged his checking account.
"They told me that the check was fraudulent," he said. "A week after that my whole account was locked up."
NewsChannel 3 learned there is a real Precision Research based in New York, but it has nothing to do with the scam or a man named Dennis Garner. Officials there said they have been flooded with phone calls from people getting scammed all over the country by the person behind the scheme who's using their company's name to reel them in.
Bright even reported his case to Southampton County Sheriff's deputies, but authorities there told NewsChannel 3 they don't really have the resources to get to the bottom of scams like this.
"If it was left up to me, I'd find the gentleman and wring the money out of him myself," said Bright. "I don't want to see nobody else get ripped off like I have."
The Federal Trade Commission says they have received tens of thousand of complaints like this over the last year. Authorities are able to get the bottom of some of them, but many of the scam artists are able to skirt justice. There are some legitimate mystery shopper programs, and the FTC explains ways you can tell the difference.