Philadelphia man pleads guilty to Craiglist ‘secret shopper’ scam

Zane Memeger
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane Memeger. Credit: DOJ

A Philadelphia man pled guilty to using Craigslist to dupe gullible internet users out of $98,000 through a variety of scams, including pretending to hire people for work as a “secret shopper.”

David Brister, 57, pled guilty today to duping victims out of more than $98,000, federal prosecutors announced. He could face three to five years in prison.

Brister allegedly engaged in a variety of online scams between January 2008 and August 2012, according to prosecutors.

In one scam, a co-conspirator outside the U.S. would purchase items for sale through Craiglist and then send phony checks or money orders for an amount of money larger than the sale price; then ask the seller to transfer the excess funds to Brister, naming him as a third party “delivery company.”

When the check bounced, the victim would discover they had given away their own money.

In another scam, Brister posted fake job listings on such as “administrative assistant” or “secret shopper.”

Individuals who responded would be sent phony checks or money orders as their first payment, then ordered to complete their new “employment obligations.” As in the other scam, these individuals would be asked to use MoneyGram or Western Union to wire part of the funds they had received to Brister. After the transfer and the check or money order bounced, victims again would realize they had given away their own funds.

Brister is scheduled to be sentenced June 17.


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