Do you remember seeing an ad for mystery shoppers and thinking, "I could get paid for one of my favorite pastimes? It sounds too good to be true!" Well, it was. A California man who swindled hopeful shoppers out of $6 million has just been sentenced to six years in federal prison.
Stevan Todorovic, 40, of Santa Inez, Calif., was convicted of seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud. His bogus company was known as the Consumer Response Group, and advertised "mystery shopping" jobs in newspapers across the United States. All it took to get these jobs, the ads claimed, was passing a certification program, which the company would provide, along with job referrals, for a fee. The average respondent lost about $71.
Todorovic set up his sham companies in Santa Barbara, and didn't just limit them to mystery shopping -- in addition he was convicted of advertising the phony American Bartending Institute, which also sold phony training programs and certifications. Although the ads claimed there were plenty of jobs available in both bartending and mystery shopping, and that a list of likely employers would be included, none of lists were legitimate.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said 87,400 people had been victimized by the scam. They probably won't get their money back, but at least Todorovic will no longer be able to prey on job seekers.
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