Iowans are being warned about a "secret shopper" scam which may have its roots in Nebraska. Authorities in both states are investigating the scheme in which people are recruited to patronize certain businesses, report on the experience and get paid for it.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says people in Iowa and elsewhere are being approached through the U-S mail and through e-mail. "The trick here is what’s being provided is a check for training," Bruning says. "Well, the check is a fake check."

Bruning says consumers receive the training check, they’re asked to cash it, then send or wire money back to the business. He says about 300 people have already fallen victim to the scam, but he couldn’t say how many of them were in Iowa.

"The checks have been two-to-three-thousand dollars and they put a new twist on this," Bruning says. "There’s a phone number and they appear to come from a Nebraska bank."

Bruning says the check looks very legitimate but he warns, Iowans should not fall for the trickery and the promise of easy money. He says, "There’s a phone number on the checks and indeed, if a bank locally, if you try to cash, you follow up, there’s somebody on the other end of the call who’s keeping track of these fraudulent checks that have been sent out."

Iowans are urged to contact the Iowa Attorney General’s office of consumer protection if they get such an offer — by mail or email.