KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — During the coronavirus pandemic, many people who are out of work are looking for part-time jobs to make ends meet.
Scammers know this and they’re sending checks by Priority Mail hoping you’ll buy their pitch promising easy money if you wrap your car with an advertisement.
These checks are counterfeit and look real.
Around East Tennessee you see vehicles wrapped with ads, generally with the name of a local business. Rarely do you see a vehicle wrapped with a national brand (Monster Energy or Coke for example).
Those who make the car wraps say it’s not profitable, Knoxville isn’t the size of Atlanta, Charlotte, or Nashville. Still, lots of people are sent real-looking checks with instructions on what to do with it.
Vanessa Gulley enjoys her days off babysitting her six-month-old grandson. Gulley says she works long hours at a thrift shop watches her money closely, and does not respond to ads on the internet.
It surprised her then when she received an unsolicited offer to make easy money. Inside the Priority Mail envelope was a generous check of nearly $5,000. She was to keep $800, plus a $50 bonus.
The letter said she qualified for her car to be wrapped as part of an advertising campaign from a nationally known company. Around East Tennessee, it’s mainly business vehicles that are wrapped advertising a company’s name. It’s not profitable for individuals though.
Gulley was sent specific instructions to follow in order to be paid.
“This check will cover your first and second-week payment of $800 as well as the wrap specialist agency’s fund. Everything looks really real. It looks promising. It looks like someone will really come out wrap your car and you’re going to walk away with $850.”Vanessa Gulley
She was instructed to deposit the check within 24 hours, text confirmation once the funds were in her account, then pay a car wrapping specialist with some of the money. She wondered though, why text the confirmation? To Gulley, that didn’t make sense.
“I knew that it wasn’t right, that something had to be going on cause no one is going to send you an almost $5,000 dollar check, tell you to keep $800 of it and they’re going to come and collect the rest.”Gulley
The FTC says fraudsters use fake checks and once you deposit the money, keep some for yourself and send the rest to the scammers, the check bounces and they make off with your money. If you get a message urging you to deposit a check and wire money, it’s a scam.
Fortunately, Gulley knew better and didn’t respond to the hoax — for a lot of people though, it’s only once their money is gone and no car wrap materializes, do they figure out the specialist who is going to help is really the scammer.
So, who are the targets of this expensive hoax?
Some car wrap scams have targeted college students, but anyone can fall for it, especially when you get a fat check.
Don’t fall for these fake check scams that take many forms.