Reports have been resurfacing since the beginning of the year of increased instances of the car wrap scam which has been around for a few years. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about scammers posing as employees of Marlboro or Purell in emails and on social media seeking people to advertise their company through car wraps. Recently I got a phony text message solicitation purportedly from Fiji water offering to pay me $500 in return for wrapping my car with Fiji advertising. We have all seen car wraps, which are advertisements for a company wrapped around a car. For someone looking for some money in return for very little effort, this may seem like a match made in heaven. But if you are not careful, it could be a match made in scam hell.
Car wrapping is actually legitimate, which is part of the problem. Scammers exploit legitimate advertising through car wraps by either putting an ad on the Internet or contacting you through a mass email or now text messages in which they seek people to have their cars used for advertising through this technique called shrink wrapping. Unsuspecting victims respond to the advertisement and are sent a check for more than the amount that the victim is to be paid for the service. The victim is instructed to deposit the check in his or her bank account and wire the rest back to the company. This is where the scam comes in. The check that the scammer sends you is a counterfeit. However, unfortunately, the money that you wire the scammer comes right out of your bank account and is impossible to retrieve. Last summer, in Ohio Tizita Guffy became a victim of the car wrap scam when she responded to an advertisement that told her she would be paid $500 a week to drive her car with advertising for Crest toothpaste wrapped around it. She was sent a legitimate appearing check and told to wire $3,000 from the check to the company that would be putting the advertisement on the car and to keep the remainder of the check. Ms. Guffy waited 24 hours for the check to clear and then wired the money as instructed. The check sent to Ms. Guffy was, of course, counterfeit and the money she wired from her account was lost forever. This scam of sending you a check for more than what you are to be paid and having you wire the balance is the basis of many different scams.
While there are legitimate companies that pay for car wrapping. None of them will ever send you an unsolicited email offering to pay you a specific amount to have your car wrapped. The legitimate car wrap advertising companies generally pay about $100 per month and they never ask you to pay for the car wrapping. They tell you where to bring your car to have it wrapped and you don’t pay anything to the wrapper. Legitimate car wrapping companies always ask for information about your car, how much you drive and where you drive. The FTC warns people about being particularly wary of car wrap opportunities that appear on social media and job boards. They are generally scams.
Always be wary if someone asks you to wire money to them as a part of a business transaction. Scammers do this all the time because it is quick and impossible to stop. In addition, even if you get what appears to be a certified check and wait a few days for the check to clear, you will still be out of luck because it takes weeks for a check to fully clear. Banks are required by law to give you conditional credit after a few days, which means that ultimately when the check turns out to be counterfeit, the credit is removed from your account and if you have, in turn, wired funds from your account assuming the check was legitimate, you are out of luck and will have lost your own money. A check sent to you by someone with whom you are doing business for whatever purpose that is more than the amount you are owed that comes with a request for you to send the overpayment amount back is always a scam.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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