Pioneer Services warns against secret shopper rip-off

Scam artists using 'Pioneer Financial Services' name to defraud consumers, businesses

Pioneer Services, the military banking division of MidCountry Bank and a company with a 77-year track record of ethical business practices, is warning the public about a secret shopper scam in which its corporate name is being used illegally.

In the scam, consumers receive letters about becoming secret shoppers and explaining the way they will be reimbursed. The letters claim to be from "Pioneer Financial Services" and include a check in the amount of $4,600. Prospects are told to deposit the check in their bank accounts, wait 24 to 48 hours, and then send a specified amount via Western Union or Money Gram to certain "receiving agents" in order to judge the money-transfer companies' level of service.

The checks, however, fail to clear the bank—the scam is designed to prey on those eager to earn a paycheck and who may send their own money instead of waiting to see if the check is valid. It is only after the bogus check fails to clear the bank that they discover both the fraud and that the money they sent cannot be recovered.

Several individuals have recently contacted the Pioneer Services' office in upstate New York regarding this letter and the accompanying check.

Pioneer Services has absolutely no connection with this matter and is actively and aggressively investigating this hoax.

The company has contacted the proper authorities, consumer advocacy groups and Web sites, and the other companies listed in the hoax, regarding this issue.

Pioneer Services asks for anyone who receives a similar letter to contact the authorities immediately, including the Federal Trade Commission and their state attorney general.