On June 30, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., of Bentonville, Ark., issued a press release about a mail fraud scheme that has affected several of the company's customers over the last few weeks.
"Recently we have experienced a high volume of customer complaints and inquiries regarding a solicitation entitled Universal Research, Inc.," said Rachel Thompson, Wal-Mart global security, aviation and travel administrative assistant. "Wal-Mart does not solicit customers to offer secret or mystery shopper opportunitites."
According to Thompson, customers targeted by the scheme receive a fraudulent letter that uses the Wal-Mart name and a fake check. Customers are instructed to cash the check and wire the money through Money Gram to evaluate Wal-Mart's money gram services.
"Wal-Mart is in no way affiliated with Universal Research, Inc., nor do we participate in promotional advertisements for this company," said Thompson. "Some telemarketers and Internet ad companies use the Wal-Mart name to engage the interest of customers. We take the use of our name, logo and other trademark properties very seriously, and with the assistance of consumers, we are able to take legal actions to protect our properties."
Customers who have information about Internet scams or fraudulent mail are asked to call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-382-4357 or e-mail the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. Customers can also contact the Missouri Attorney General.
The FTC maintains a telemarketing complaint database called the Consumer Sentinel, which is available to law enforcement agencies across the United States. The more concerns that the FTC logs the more likely it is that law enforcement agencies will be able to get involved, said Thompson.