Is Shadow Shopper a Scam?

Hey Queenie!

I found a company called Shadow Shopper and they said that they could get me started in mystery shopping, but they charge a fee.  I remember that you said that you should never pay to shop, so I just wanted to know if they’re legit or not. 

Help me out?

-Shoppin’ Sandra


Hi Sandra,

Shadow Shopper is not a mystery shopping company.  No legitimate mystery shopping company would ever charge you the joy and priviledge of working for them.  Shadow Shopper is an assignment service for mystery shopping companies.  How it works is that MS companies will post their jobs on SS for free, and then SS passes those shops onto the mystery shoppers who have signed up for their services.

Shadow Shopper is not a scam.  They provide a service to mystery shoppers and for mystery shopping companies.  They do not actually have clients, send out assignments or pay you.  Think of them as a Craigslist job board specifically for mystery shopping…that charges you.

Now, people argue back and forth whether or not Shadow Shopper is worth the fees they charge.  I do personally know Mystery Shopping company owners who use the service, in addition to the free industry message boards.  So, you may get a few assignments that may have slipped through the cracks.  But, in my opinion, you can get plenty of assignments through the free message boards…plus once you’re signed on with a company, they’ll start sending you emails as well.

Some mystery shopping job boards charge, but also just scrape the listings from our free industry job boards, so you’re getting second hand information. By the time you receive the notice of an assignment, chances are it’s already been filled.  Shadow Shopper is not one of those scraping sites.  (Although I’m sure they do still pull assignments from other places)

The fee for SS is pretty nominal, so if you wanted to try it out and see if it’s worth it to you, you certainly can go for it! Remember, because it’s a business expense, it is tax deductible. :)

Good luck and happy shopping!


If you found this article helpful, consider getting the full Mystery Shopper Training Course containing 2 hours of video and a complete manual with over 170 legitimate mystery shopping companies!

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I Too have received the stupid checks that hey want you to cash and then buy a money union check and send it to someone else but that my friend is the scam that I throw in the trash several times a year, but  I legitimately work for companies that pay me through pay pal or direct deposit for the work that I do so the little that i pay to access the board is well worth it but the companies usually call me. I haven't had to call anyone yet.


I signed up for the service and in less than 20 minutes 2 companies called me and hired me to work for them so this is not a scam. Unless you have knowledge about the information you have to offer please keep quiet because you know nothing about this service and it is wonderful for people who what to earn a few bucks on there own time frame.

Queen Buzzy
Queen Buzzy

@pm2316 Ha! No PM, they did not hire me to write this. As I very objectively state above, Shadow Shopper is not a mystery shopping company, they are an assignment board. You pay them to send you the job offers in your area. This can cut down on time researching across different company and industry job boards. I think people tend to  jump to conclusions and call companies "scams" when they don't understand what they're getting. It just comes down to unrealistic expectations and not understanding how scams really work.

Do you need to sign on with Shadow Shopper to get MS assignments? Of course not. Just like no one needs to purchase my mystery shopping training program to learn about the may prove to be helpful, but you can find information elsewhere, just like you can find mystery shopping jobs in other places than Shadow Shopper.  

Let me give you a sampling of the "complaints" I've seen about Shadow Shopper: 

This person claims that Shadow Shopper sent them a cashier's check to cash and wire back to a random person. I can guarantee you that wasn't SS. That was a scammer posing as SS. This is a very common scam within the mystery shopping industry and most companies post warnings about it on their websites. So, for this complaint, it's a case of mistaken identity. 

This person signed up, accepted a job, did the job incorrectly, and is now blaming Shadow Shopper for not being paid. First: again, SS is a JOB BOARD, the person was actually hired by a mystery shopping company, not SS, but they're blaming SS anyway. (It's like calling Craigslist a scam for not getting paid for the job you took through their site.) Second: the shopper admits that they did the assignment incorrectly! Why they think they would get paid for doing the job wrong is beyond me. If you work in an office, and then decide that instead of your office work, you'd just come in and perform the Nutcracker Ballet every day instead, do you think your company would still pay you for working? Yeah, probably not. Mystery Shoppers are hired to do very specific work. If you don't do it correctly, you won't get paid. Welcome to the world of being a responsible adult. 

This person is claiming SS is a scam because they're charging recurring fees. Ummmm, that's what you're signing up for: a membership to receive job offers from mystery shopping companies. Obviously they didn't read what they were paying for...which seems very irresponsible to me. If you're pulling out your credit card, you should know what you're getting. That's the short version, (grin.) 

As I stated in my article, you don't need to sign on with Shadow Shopper to get Mystery Shopping assignments. I'm just trying to educate people about what to expect.   Please don't take this article or my posts to be some kind of an endorsement for you to spend your money on them. I think if you're going to invest your money in anything with Mystery Shopping, you should sign up for MSPA certification, attend their conferences, or get my training program so you know how to identify scams, (*ahem* shameless plug alert.) 

Of course, some people find value in the service Shadow Shopper provides, but again, you don't NEED them.  B

ottom line is that Shadow Shopper is a far cry from being a scam. They are a legitimate company that provides a service. Believe me, I've been mystery shopping since 1999 (15 years!) if they were a scam, I'd say so.  

-Queen Buzzy  

If you're in Orlando for the MSPA ShopperFest October 2014, come say Hi! I'll be presenting: When Shops Go Horribly, Horribly Wrong!


Did you get paid by Shadow Shopper to write this? I only ask because a simple search on Google provides great details on just what a scam Shadow Shopper is. Besides your post, I did not read one positive thing of the 100's I read. How would you address that?


@pm2316  LOL  Still no reply!  I think it's a scam