ASIC issues warning over shadow shopping scam

by AB13 Feb 2018

ASIC has issued a warning over a scam where cold callers claim to be shadow shopping on behalf of the regulator.

ASIC said today that scammers are claiming to be looking for shadow shoppers as part of an ASIC compliance and monitoring campaign.

As Australian Broker reported last month, ASIC has launched the second phase of its review into the mortgage broking industry by examining the suitability of brokers' advice through a mystery shopping exercise.

While this project has started, an ASIC spokesperson told Australian Broker recently that no one would yet have arranged a mortgage yet as part of the exercise.

"That phase will be happening soon," said the spokesperson.

Using the website www.theshadowshopper.com, the scammers offer to pay potential shadow shoppers for their time. They may also encourage individuals to meet in person or attend a presentation, after which they will receive a questionnaire to complete, said ASIC. 

"ASIC has no involvement with this website or its operators, and is undertaking inquiries into the activities of the operators," said the regulator.

It urges anyone contacted by the scammers or referred to their website to not respond.

"From time to time ASIC carries out genuine consumer research including shadow shops, however we only work with accredited market research companies. If you are contacted by a company representing that they are undertaking research for ASIC you can call ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630 to check."

ASIC also said that the scam is not connected or associated with legitimate market research firm Shadow Shopper at http://www.shadowshopper.com.au/.

Related stories:
ASIC begins shadow shopping brokers
ASIC’s broker shadow shop “imminent”

COMMENTS

  • by Reality? 13/02/2018 3:33:08 PM

    "No-one has yet arranged a mortgage.."??
    So mystery shopping by ASIC 'will' eventually involve some Broker wasting days of work, for a loan that isn't real anyway.
    Who re-imburses the Broker for time lost - as they aren't wage earners like ASIC. Or do ASIC waive their annual licence fee, to compensate for time wasted?

  • by Mark 13/02/2018 3:42:02 PM

    To what end may I ask. What is to gain in that exercise for a scammer. Nothing!!. I was personally contacted by a company asking if I would participate as a shadow shopper in the ASIC review of brokers and their compliance with regulations. When I told them I was a broker and hence would not participate they they agreed it would be a conflict of interest.
    To me it seems like it is really ASIC behind all the calls, indirectly through whatever company they have engaged to conduct the survey, and they have been caught out by the companies methods in endeavouring to engage shadow shoppers without any screening process as to who they are engaging. I could have said yes and participated and my favourable views towards broking would then impact on the results in some way.
    Personally I believe all this is just deflection from ASIC and point out the old saying "Rubbish in, Rubbish out" that tends to apply to ASIC generally.

  • by John 15/02/2018 11:12:14 AM

    Best to charge a fee up front, refunded when the loan settles etc.
    Say $1,000 may be more if we suspect a shadow shopper.