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I applied for a product tester job post through LinkedIn. I received an email and then sent a check through email which I was told to print and deposit and when funds are available I should contact them to purchase the product with which I am testing. The Company is real and the bank is real with routing number and check number .. Is this just a product testing gig which I am being paid to buy the product or is this a scam? any thoughts

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    Does this answer your question? Scam? Checks via Email
    – littleadv
    Commented May 29 at 16:20
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    PURCHASE is the red flag. A real company will SEND you the product. It's cheaper for them, because they get taxed on any money they send you, but get to reduce their taxable income by the money they expend.
    – Therac
    Commented May 30 at 15:48
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    "The Company is real and the bank is real..." - That may be true, but that doesn't mean that the person you've been corresponding with actually represents them.
    – David K
    Commented May 30 at 15:53
  • One question to consider is whether you are allowed to purchase the product anywhere you can find it (e.g. at your local Try-N-Save or your great-uncle's eBay shop), or whether you are told to buy it from a specific website or by wiring the money to a specific vendor. Commented May 30 at 22:49
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    It is a well-known everyday very common scam.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 1 at 13:13

5 Answers 5

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It is almost certainly a scam, even if the mechanics are not obvious. There are more legitimate ways for them to provide you a product a test without making you go through hoops to deposit a printed check (which is likely a violation of your bank's remote deposit terms as well) and buy the product yourself.

Most likely the check will eventually bounce, and you'll be on the hook to cover the bad check.

It could also be some sort of money laundering, where you do not directly lose money but are unwittingly hiding the true source of money by channeling it through you.

Either way, I would not participate any further.

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    It is a well-known commonplace scam, run by many groups.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 1 at 13:16
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In addition to the points made in other answers, a check through email is never safe, since there is no way to prove it wasn't forged. That's enough reason to run away all by itself.

And "at home product tester" is notoriously a scam "job". Don't bother applying for these.

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    Especially considering, unless OP is leaving out details, the check was sent after they only just applied. No interview, no vetting, no negotiation. Real jobs don't do that.
    – Seth R
    Commented May 30 at 1:28
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    And randomly sending sums of money to people's personal accounts is extremely shady and a MASSIVE headache to an accountant. There's no good reason to ever setup standard operating procedures involving cutting checks to everyone. No accountant will ever set this up. Money laundering though, that's exactly what they do.
    – Nelson
    Commented May 30 at 1:50
  • "In addition to the above" When your answer becomes the top answer, that means the question itself.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Jun 1 at 10:29
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    @Clockwork: Fixed, tnx. Though I would trust readers to figure that out.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 1 at 15:15
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If they want you to buy the product, then that means the product is already on the market and available for sale. You test products before they get released. Finding problems after something is on the market means manufacturers have to order a recall, destroy and eat the cost of any unsold inventory, risk getting fined by regulatory agencies (or even banned from the market), and potentially even settle consumer lawsuits. It's an absurdly expensive process, and legitimate companies will go to extreme lengths to stay away from all of that. Even without the dodgy check-via-email part, asking someone to test something that's supposedly already a released product should raise a huge red flag.

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    Depends on who is doing the testing and why. If it's the manufacturer doing quality control testing, then yes, that's not happening post sale. However, third party companies (e.g. Consumer Reports) will certainly get people to test products that are already on the market. Even the manufacturer themselves may do post-market testing; not for that product per se, but for market research in developing the next iteration. -- That said, I agree this is most likely a scam, but "test this product that's currently on sale and give us a review" on its own doesn't make it one.
    – R.M.
    Commented May 30 at 22:45
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It sounds like a scam that is based on known behaviour of some sellers who use "testers".

Such sellers typically will either-

a) send you a product for free at their expense (for evaluation, so they technically retain ownership but seldom would ask for it back). This would be common for someone with a strong social media presence (typically tens or hundreds of thousands of subscribers or more in the areas I'm familiar with, though smaller ones may qualify too).

b) issue you a refund for product you have purchased on a BtoC commerce platform after you submit a review of the product (obviously they expect it to be a positive or mostly positive review). The product has to be actually purchased on the platform for the review to have full value to the seller. This may be a violation on your part of the terms of service with the platform. This is because items without a reasonable number of reviews don't tend to sell well.

However- sending apparently random cash by cheque/check in advance is almost surely a scam. If you ask for the money by Paypal and tell them that you'd be happy to eat the amount Paypal skims from the total in exchange for the convenience and safety, you'll probably get some silly excuse why that's "impossible".

I can think of a few ways they could make this work, depending on where (and how) exactly you are asked to send the "real" money that will come out of your bank account, never to be seen again.

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It depends on the price of the product. Amazon and Ebay sellers sometimes give away very cheap objects in exchange for what they assume will be glowing reviews. Amazon even has a formal program for sellers to do this. (The odds of actually receiving a free product if you register in the free product program is several thousand to one).

But sellers are looking for reviews from people who legitimately purchased the product, so they don't appear to be fake shill reviews.

How much did the object cost to make? They probably wouldn't buy you a new car, but they might give you a free T-shirt or roll of paper towels or a pocket knife if they are are a new seller without a lot of good reviews.

Some sellers see it as "priming the pump."

But if the product is worth real money, almost certainly the check will bounce. The reason it appeared to clear initially was that your account had sufficient funds to cover the check.

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