The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a report about the prevalence of scams that are initiated through text messages. Among the top five in the FCC’s list was car wrap scams. Last year, I told you about Caitlin Driscoll of Pennsylvania who received a text message offering her $400 a week to wrap her car with a decal for Cadbury the candy maker. It was a scam, but because Ms. Driscoll works for the Better Business Bureau she recognized it as a scam immediately. In 2021, 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.
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 to a company that is supposed to wrap your car. 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.
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 none send money to you to forward to anyone else. 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 in text messages or 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.
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