Scammers never stop dreaming up new ways to con you out of your money-and reinventing old tricks that work. The fake-check scam is a tried-and-true scheme with dozens of variations. One such variation, the car-wrap scam, has recently become more widespread and successful.
Here’s all you need to know about the car-wrap scam and how you can protect yourself from becoming the next victim.
In this scam, well-known “brands” post ads or send mass emails promising consumers generous compensation for allowing the company to use their car as advertising space. The consumer simply needs to have their vehicle shrink-wrapped with an ad for the company to get paid, usually, around $500 a week.
Unfortunately, the ad is bogus and does not really represent the promoted company. When the victim is awarded their first “paycheck,” it will be made out for an amount that’s far larger than what was promised. Alternatively, the victim will be supplied with the funds to pay the car-wrapper; only the amount on the check is a lot larger than necessary. In both scenarios, the victim will be instructed to cash the check and mail back the surplus to the sender. You can probably guess the ending: The check will not clear and the victim will never see that money again.
Like every successful scam, this one tries to bait its victims with the promise of easy money. Luckily, there are loads of red flags to alert you to the fact that you’re looking at a scam.
First, the ad will be written poorly and riddled with typos and spelling errors.
Here is the actual text used in one of these scams:
Bull light are currently seeking to employ car owners world wide. You will need to carry this promotional advert on the exterior of your car and you will be compensated with $500 per week which is essentially a “rental” payment for letting our company use the space of your car, no application fees required from you. We would be paying you by check and would want you to get back to us with your Name: Street Address: City: and cell phone State: Zip code: to send you the check and also send your Age: Current Occupation: Make of car/ year:. We will contact you immediately we receive this information Note: We take full responsibility for placing and remove decal on your car and it will not resort to any damage. Thanks.
A brief look at the ad should clue you in to its shady intent. Legitimate brands know their spelling and grammar.
Another clue is the ridiculously high compensation being offered for essentially renting out your vehicle for an alleged company to use as advertising space. You know what they say about things that are too good to be true …
Also, if the offer actually was legitimate, the company would likely be bombarded with hopeful applicants instead of sending out mass emails begging people to consider this lucrative, no-sweat opportunity.
If you fall for the scam and sign up to have your car shrink-wrapped, you can still pull out when you get your first paycheck or funding to be used for the car wrap. Legitimate companies do not mistakenly “overpay” you and then ask you to refund the change.
“If you get a message urging you to deposit a check and wire money back, it’s a scam,” says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “Every time. No matter the story.”
If you receive a check that matches this description, rip it up and cut off all contact with the sender.
It’s equally important to note that many of these car-wrap scams are being pulled off in the name of well-known beverage companies like Monster Energy, Pepsi, Bud Light and Red Bull. Most of these companies have confirmed that they do not run any programs like the one promoted in the scam.
If you come across a car-wrap offer that sounds legitimate, a quick online search of the company that’s allegedly associated with the job can help you determine whether it is truly authentic. If it turns out to be a scam, be sure to warn your friends and to file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov.
Always be on the alert for possible scams and keep yourself informed of the latest schemes. A little education and a lot of common sense can go a long way toward keeping you safe from scams.
Have you spotted a car-wrap scam? Tell us about it in the comments.