PineCone Research Customer or Secret Shopper Survey Scams

PineCone Research Customer or Secret Shopper Survey Scams

If you have received email messages appearing as if they came from PineCone Research, promising you money in order to complete surveys, cash a Check (Cheque) or request personal information, please delete these email messages. These emails are scams that may get you arrested. Please be aware that Pinecone Research has no involvement in these scams. Participating in their surveys is always free of charge, and they will never ask their panelists to cash a check for a large amount and then use the proceeds to "test" a service.

A Sample of a PineCone Research Email Scam

Customer Insights Survey!!!

Dear Prospective Shopper,

We are currently accepting limited number of applications from competent shoppers to evaluate Western Union's services and programs, both in-store and on their Website.

Job Description & Responsibilities;

(1) As our shopper posing as normal customers, you will be required to visit the nearest outlet near you to perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product or using a service.

(2) Funds will be provided in form of a Certified Check to cover the expenses of evaluating the outlet.

(3) While there, you will secretly evaluate things like customer service, store cleanliness and quality of service rendered.

(4) Upon completion of the survey you're to simply send us an E-mail with your rating of the store.

Payment Terms;

You will receive a flat sum of $200.00 per assignment. It's fun and rewarding. There is no charge to become a volunteer and You do not require any special skills for this opening.

Application Procedure;

We would like you to participate because it's Fun & Rewarding, please fill out the Application below as we hope to Welcome You to PineCone Research ;

Full Names:
Address Line 1:
Address Line 2:
Zip Code:
Home Phone Number:
Cell / Mobile Phone Number:

We're dedicated to providing our customers the best services possible, and you can help!

Business Evaluation Survey!!!

You have been invited to participate in our Business Evaluation Survey !!! ($150 per survey)

PineCone Research assigns over 150,000 in-store surveys each year and has provided business evaluation services for over 15 years. It is free to sign up and we are always looking for enthusiastic new panelists.

Through our business evaluation surveys, PineCone Research delivers an accurate picture of the customer experience and services using on-profile people in real situations to report on their interaction. Apply to join our panel and get paid to shop, enjoy leisure activities, or have your say on customer service standards.

If you would like to be considered for assignments, please fill the requested application below:

Address Line 1:
Address Line 2:
Zip Code:
Home Phone Number
Cell / Mobile Phone Number

Pinecone Research posted the following warning on their website:

Important Security Notice:

We have been made aware that third parties may be attempting to use the names and logos of Pinecone Research for different "scams." One example of such a scam is a "mystery shopping" assignment. Essentially, the victim is provided a fake check and advised to cash it, and then use some of the proceeds to test a service (for example, testing a Western Union wire transfer). The victim is advised that he or she may retain the balance from the cashed check as payment, however, the check later bounces. Other examples include recruiting for "business evaluation surveys" or "hiring" employees.

Please be aware that Pinecone Research has no involvement in these fraudulent transactions. Participating in our surveys is always free of charge, and we never ask our panelists to cash a check for a large amount and then use the proceeds to “test” a service. Furthermore, all communications with us will always be with the email address "” -- be wary of any email that asks you to respond to a different address, or asks you to respond by clicking on a link within the email. Please be aware that email sending addresses can be faked, and so it's possible for a fake email to appear to have come from this address.)

If you are targeted by any of these scams, please report any information regarding these activities to local law enforcement agencies, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "" reporting system ( in the United States or the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre ( in Canada.

The Better Business Bureau also posted the following warning on their website:

BBB is issuing a warning about a business, posing as PineCone Research Panel, to fraudulently conduct a mystery shopping check cashing scam. Consumers receive a counterfeit check and are advised to cash it. Once cashed, consumers are then asked to secretly shop a money transfer business by wiring funds to unknown individuals. Consumers who have been scammed have reported losing as much as $3,060.

BBB warns consumers to be suspicious of anyone that asks you to cash a check and wire these scenarios the check is likely counterfeit and will eventually bounce. The consumer who cashes the check will be held responsible for any money lost in the transaction, plus any additional fees imposed by their bank.

BBB is unable to determine the person(s) responsible for this scam. The name, PineCone Research Panel, belongs to an actual company doing business in Cincinnati, OH. However, PineCone Research Panel of Cincinnati, OH is not affiliated with the person(s) perpetrating this scam and has issued their own notice.

For more information, click here to go to the BBB website.

Check the comment section below for additional information, share what you know, or ask a question about this article by leaving a comment below. And, to quickly find answers to your questions, use our search Search engine.

Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.
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Comments, Questions, Answers, or Reviews

Comments (Total: 24)

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  • January 16, 2020 at 5:24 AM by an anonymous user from: State College, Pennsylvania, United States

    BEWARE of Pinecone Research, themselves! Been a member in good standing for over a decade but for past 2 weeks, I attempted to redeem $30 worth of points & was repeatedly refused & prompted to contact customer service. Then repeated attempts to contact them ALL messages were refused! Finally filed a complaint with the BBB & literally seconds after filing? Pinecone suddenly responds to me despite all my messages being deemed as 'not received' So sounds like they know what I'm doing online. CREEPY. I regret giving them all of mine & families personal details. For a lousy $6 a month? It is not worth it. I just want to redeem points & leave Pinecone Research. They did the same thing to another member, I'm communicating with. THIS is why they don't have a fb page. Members BEWARE to redeem every $3 you earn. I felt I could trust them but learned the hard way that they're not to be trusted.

  • July 31, 2018 at 11:27 AM by info

    Received this:

    "From: Pinecone Research <>

    Sent: Monday, July 30, 2018 8:10 PM

    To: us07

    Subject: get paid for your opinions! Hard to believe But it's true

    Click here if this e-mail doesn't display correctly.

    How would you like to get paid for your opinions?

    Hard to believe, I know,

    but it's true.

    Join the PineCone Research Online Consumer Panel and help to influence tomorrow's products today!

    Complete surveys from the comfort and convenience of your computer and get paid for sharing your opinions. Membership is free and registration only takes a few minutes - no endless forms to fill out.

    To begin receiving $3 for each product survey plus entries into a Sweepstakes to win additional cash prizes, Sign Up Now!

    Why wait? - Join here and start earning cash.

    PineCone Research...where we value you, your time, your privacy and your opinions.

    © 2017 Nielsen - All product names herein are the properties of their respective owners.

    Nielsen, 770 Broadway, New York, NY

    10003-9595, USA

    To stop recieving emails from PineCone, click here."

  • October 19, 2017 at 11:13 AM by info

    Here is another scam:

    "From: PineCone Research <>

    Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:27 PM

    Subject: Wal-Mart Assignment

    Pinecone Research tm

    You are invited to participate in Wal-Mart survey for customer service satisfaction.

    You will be paid $500.00 for each completed survey.

    Join Now >

    Operations Manager

    PineCone Research

    Attn: Gary Scott"

  • October 13, 2017 at 11:05 AM by an anonymous user from: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

    They are at it again. Knowing that it was a scam I did it anyway just to s***w with these people. They overnighted a package to me, so at least they lost that money. It was from "Shadow Shopper International" in which a check came from NC but banked from First Choice Credit Union in West Palm Beach, FL.

    I called that bank and of course, it was fake. Same premise - cash the check, keep $400, go to wal-mart and get 5 money orders for $810 each but LEAVE THEM BLANK. Haha, mail them to Edwin Red Vasquez at 715 Rimgrove Dr, La Puente, CA 91744. Perhaps the FBI could raid this home because I'm sure they are still scamming people - and even one person that loses thousands of dollars is too many. My fake check was for $4,655.36. So obscure right?

  • November 28, 2014 at 8:24 AM by an anonymous user from: Leesburg, Florida, United States

    I received a fake email on thanksgiving with the reply email of

    The email had the sender listed as Karen Scott I did not reply or respond to email.

  • July 23, 2014 at 6:30 PM by an anonymous user from: Newark, New Jersey, United States

    SCAMMER! Requests Texts only. Send emails to join Mystery Shopping with his agency. Then, send a check for $2240.00 to my address requesting I deposit it then withdraw the money then "complete the job" by purchasing Several Money Pak credit cards and submitting the account numbers with the pins. I've reported him to the FTC.

  • June 2, 2014 at 12:48 PM by an anonymous user from: Duluth, Minnesota, United States

    To whom it may concern:

    Today I received a letter via USPS priority mail from Marie Elwood, Skys Sunlight LLC, 1510 Heather Lakes Blvd, Brandon, FL, 33511. In the envelope it contained a letter from First Provisional Research Foundation LLC, signed by Richard Anderson with a telephone number out of San Francicso.

    The request included a check for 1985.00 to be drawn off of the EastWest Bank in Pasadena CA and to have the check cashed, take the funds to Walmart and get money grams for 2 different amounts sent to Edwin Red Vasquez out of West Covina, CA and then keep the balance of $200.00 for myself.

    I contacted the bank to confirm validity and was advised that the check was fraudulent and it is a scam used to draw funds illegally. I have since destroyed the check, but have the letter with the details still in hand in case I am contacted by them again.

    Please don't fall for these scams! If it seems to good to be true, it very likely is!

    • June 3, 2014 at 8:47 AM by an anonymous user from: Jacksonville, Florida, United States

      yes I just recently gotten one yesterday also called the numbers and they are Google play numbers. Emailed the person, no reply, because I said I know its a d**n scam...people will try to do anything to get over on you miserable grimey people in the world.

      • June 3, 2014 at 9:01 AM by info

        Do not respond to these email messages; you are only telling these people that your email address is active, so they will continue to spam or attempt to scam you.

  • April 7, 2014 at 7:23 PM by an anonymous user from: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

    Hahaha...received a check today and swiftly deposited in my trash...after I tore it to pieces. Approximately 10 minutes ago I received an email alert informing me to "cash" the check and proceed to nearest Western Union to do a money transfer and evaluate the services...yeah right! By the way I was to "keep" $250 for myself.

  • March 27, 2014 at 2:36 AM by an anonymous user from: Washington, District of Columbia, United States

    Yes. Mine was much like the one posted 19 hours ago by Anonymous. The website was:

  • March 26, 2014 at 7:57 AM by an anonymous user from: Paterson, New Jersey, United States

    I received an email from pinecone research and I used to do their surveys when I was younger so I thought nothing of it . Until I got to the bank and they said they couldn't cash it and suggested that I deposit it into my own account which I did.I felt a little hesitant at first but I have never had a problem with them in the past so I just did it .Next day after sleeping on it I researched a little more and found this article . Thank god I didn't do anything with the money . I am reporting it to local authorities and notifying my bank ASAP. The

    contact name on the mystery shopper was as follows:

    Dear Panelist,

    The check meant to cover the expenses for the survey will be delivering soon. You are required to cash the check and proceed with your first assignment.

    SURVEY #70403

    You are required to carry out a secret survey on the nearest Western Union agent outlet in your region by forwarding a fixed amount of "$1540.00" to a mystery consumer in another region (USA) conducting the same survey at the recipient's end.

    New Recipient Western Union Information



    •State: KY

    •Zip Code: 40165

    •Amount: "$1540.00"

    •10-Digits MTCN/Tracking Number: "_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"

    Your compensation is "$250.00" per survey.

    You are required to deduct an additional "$150.00" for the transfer fees at the Western Union agent outlet to send by money-in- minutes.

    How To evaluate the Western Union agent Outlet Services

    You are required to evaluate the Western Union agent outlet services by simply observing and recording the parameters below.

    •Time of the day:

    •Appearance of attendant:


    •Time taken to complete transfer:



    •Future improvements you will like to see:

    Western Union information required to be submitted after completion of the survey

    •Sender Name:

    •Sender Address:


    •10-Digits MTCN/Tracking Number: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Upon completion of the survey, you are to immediately send us an email with the ratings of the outlet store/shop services and the 10-Digits MTCN/Tracking which would be needed by the "mystery consumer" to complete her survey.


    PineCone Research®

    250 East 5th St. 9th Floor

    Cincinnati, OH 45202

    Attn: Karen Scott

    PineCone Research Foundation.

  • March 23, 2014 at 2:09 PM by an anonymous user from: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

    I received a check for $1255 with the same issues as listed from previous comments. What should I do with the check. Should I destroy the check or return it. Also who else can I alert so hopefully it will be stopped?

    • March 23, 2014 at 2:52 PM by info

      Report it to the police.

  • March 19, 2014 at 5:20 AM by an anonymous user from: Dayton, Ohio, United States

    I did give me name and address because I knew it was a real company but didn't realize it was a scam until I read all the details to follow. Obviously I won't cash any checks but what can I do to reverse this information?

    • March 19, 2014 at 6:42 AM by info

      There is nothing that you can really do, but you can report it to your local authority. Just be careful next time.

  • February 3, 2014 at 5:56 PM by an anonymous user from: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

    I received a check in the mail today for 1975.00 priority mail. No note or anything explaining what it was for. I googled the name and address on the envelope P

  • January 6, 2014 at 5:25 AM by an anonymous user from: Tucker, Georgia, United States

    I have just received a check in the amount of $1255 of which $250 is stated as my payment for conducting a survey of the nearest Wal-mart store. The activity they asked me to complete is to purchase a MoneyPak for $1000, survey the agent, location convenience, and whether I would return to that store for the same transaction in the future. When I opened the envelope and saw the check I immediately knew it was a scam and sent them an email advising them that their check would be returned to them ASAP! Lol

  • January 1, 2014 at 5:07 AM by an anonymous user from: Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

    got this email on Jan 1, 2014

  • October 29, 2013 at 4:29 PM by an anonymous user from: Bellefontaine, Ohio, United States

    I just got a check in the mail today in the amount of $1,255.00 from Pinecone research in Covington, do a Walmart study which I was to first cash the check and buy a moneypak in the amount of $1,000.00 and then email the money pak number on the back of the card. What is confusing me is that the letter is signed Karen Scott (survey coordinator). I am on hold at this moment trying to alert Pinecone about this new scam.They are now aware and said for sure it is a scam.

  • October 16, 2013 at 3:16 PM by an anonymous user from: Miamisburg, Ohio, United States

    Got this mail on 10/16/13:

    - - -

    You are invited to participate in our Evaluation Surveys.

    {Compensation: 150 USD on every survey you conduct.}

    >>>> > Click Here To Register Online <<<<<

    2013 PineCone Research Foundation

    Its from Karen Scott (USA) <>

    The link takes you to this address: 1/pinecone.html

    - - -

    Hope this is useful

    • March 4, 2014 at 10:13 PM by an anonymous user from: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

      I just received this email today, March 4, 2014... thank you everyone for this site, now I really know this is a scam, glad I didn't send my name, etc...

  • October 14, 2013 at 12:57 PM by an anonymous user from: Charleston, South Carolina, United States

    Below is a copy of the email that I received today. I suspect it is a scam.<br/>Thanks<br/><br/>-<br/>You are invited to participate in our Valuation for Western Union! <br/>{Compensation: $150 Per Survey}<br/><br/>PineCone Research™ assigns over 100,000 in-store surveys each year and has provided evaluation services for over 15 years.<br/>Participating in our surveys is always free of charge, and we are always looking for enthusiastic new valuators.<br/><br/>Through our business evaluation surveys, PineCone Research delivers an accurate picture of the consumer experience<br/>and services using on-profile people in real situations to report on their interaction.<br/><br/>Apply to join our panel and get paid to shop, enjoy leisure activities and directly influence which products gets developed<br/>to meet consumers demands.<br/><br/>To participate in assignments, please fill the requested application below:<br/><br/><br/> <br/>Names: <br/>Street Address: <br/>Apt/Suite/Other:<br/>(optional) <br/>City: <br/>State: <br/>Zip Code: <br/>Home Phone #: - - <br/>Cell/Mobile Phone #: - - <br/>Email: <br/><br/><br/><br/>Sincerely,<br/><br/>PineCone Research™<br/>250 East 5th St. 9th Floor,<br/>Cincinnati, OH 45202<br/>PineCine Research, Inc.™ Copyright 2013 © PineCone Research Foundation

    • November 30, 2014 at 9:32 AM by an anonymous user from: Potsdam, New York, United States

      I got one today but now they are offer $350.00 per survey.. Beware all

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PineCone Research Customer or Secret Shopper Survey Scams