Saturday, September 29, 2012


“Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11, NIV).

Ever heard of a “mystery shopper?” These are people on assignment who are compensated in some way to go into a store, restaurant or other business to inspect and report on aspects such as the condition of the property; courtesy of employees; quality of food; display of merchandise; etc. Mystery shoppers are usually reimbursed a specified amount for meals or minimal purchases or paid a small set fee for performing the “shop,” usually $5 to $20.

Pam (not her real name) received a letter in the mail offering her the “opportunity to become a mystery shopper.” Enclosed with the letter was a very authentic-looking check for over $4,000. The instructions told Pam to sign the check and return it to the mystery shopping firm named in the letter. This, the letter said, would put that much money on account for her to spend doing mystery shops. A list of stores and suggested merchandise were also included.

Pam accepted this company’s “offer,” signing and returning the enclosed check and then receiving a “debit” card to shop with. She spent the entire amount just as the letter had instructed.

And then she got the surprise of her life: a “payment due” notice. Pam had fallen for a scam, signing a “check” that was actually a high-interest loan agreement for the money she’d spent using the “debit” card she’d received. Hoping to get “something for nothing,” Pam had added more debt to her already difficult financial situation.

How often have we heard it said of something that “it sounds too good to be true?” Pam’s experience prompted me to do a TV segment offering information on what’s it’s like to be an actual “secret shopper” or “mystery shopper.” I explained that there were many “get rich quick” schemes claiming to be shopping opportunities, but that none of these high-paying promises were legitimate.

“Dishonest money” causes nothing but trouble. Last time I heard from Pam, the people who scammed her were being investigated and hopefully have since faced criminal charges. Pam is now struggling to pay a loan that she became saddled with by trying to make a fast dollar.

“He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” When you earn money by honest means, it may not accumulate quickly, but it can “grow” when you manage it wisely. Ask the Lord to help you be the best possible manager of His financial blessings.

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” (Jonathan Swift)

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