I'm really sorry that a few of you fell for this scheme. It's cruel and robs people of money they really don't have. This just goes to show you that some people genuinely suck.
Here's some things to look for when you receive something like this and you're not sure if it is real or not:
1. Look closely at the address. this one is typed wrong. See? 5090N S. LAWNDALE AVN
(they don't care about typing errors or presentation)
2. Paper stock. Is the paper a cheap, dollar store bond or is it a nice white 24lb bond? Reputable companies will use a nice bond paper when sending a job offer. Have you ever gotten paid in advance for work you have yet to do? How many companies will let you train yourself? Especially if you know absolutely nothing about mystery shopping. Also, the check will be generated on bank stock checks and most likely would have a real signature written in blue or black ink.
3. INSTINCT - never 2nd guess your gut. You'll lose every time
4. Use the internet, you're on it right now, right? Look up the bank. Do they exist, is the address the same as the one on the website? Is there a phone number? Search out the company that wrote the check, and finally see what you can find about the person who signed the check. Are they connected to the company? Is the company solvent? You probably have a telephone too. Call the phone numbers, if you find any, don't be embarrassed to do some investigating into a check that some company you've never heard of has sent you for work you haven't done. You'll end up saving a lot in the long run. Don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement, they have a checks and fraud team for a reason.
These people are slime balls and their only purpose is to get you to deposit that check and send YOUR money to them at a destination out of the country in an amount just under what would be required to have the FBI take the case.
Always remember, if it's too good to be true, it is and if your gut is telling you to do something, do it.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or what ever you celebrate at this time of year and be aware of the slime out there.