KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you’ve been solicited by a company asking to wrap your car, proceed with caution.
A Morristown man answered an ad recently claiming he could make money while driving his car. He called WATE 6 On Your Side after realizing the deal — was in fact, a scam.
There are legitimate ways to make extra money while driving, such as wrapping your car with an advertisement. In some areas of the country, it pays off.
Some businesses pay a fee for people to drive around with a branded wrap on their vehicles.
How car wrap scams work
But in car wrap scams, the would-be driver comes out the loser.
Doug Berry answered an ad about making easy money by using his car as a driving billboard. He saw this as a better alternative to becoming an Uber driver, which is another way drivers often make money.
“The idea was to put a decal or a wrap on the vehicle,” Berry told WATE 6 On Your Side. “: The wrap would go where, show me. Doug: The wrap would go on the quarter panel, they didn’t say exactly where. But that it would be a decal or a wrap on the vehicle.”
A text message that Doug was sent says he would make hundreds of dollars within three months. It made sense — on the back window of his car is an advertisement for a card referral business from which Doug gets some money.
“If you text this code to this number then I get a little something each time someone clicks on that. In this envelope, we have the check and their so-called instructions,” Doug reads.
The instructions sent to Doug direct him to text his name once he receives the cashiers check.
“And this check is for $2,950. Which, if you notice the check is blurry,” Berry said. “If you hold it up to the light, there is no water mark. So it a totally bogus check.”
Then he received a message stating they had accepted for him to “drive your ride” with a Crayola logo.
Doug received half a dozen text messages. The area code — which is likely spoofed — was from California.
“When you receive it, deposit the check to your bank and get back to me once it is deposited,” Berry said.
He was told to purchase a total of $2,400 in money gram cards from Wal-Mart and then contact a “Mr. Christopher” with the numbers.
Then, they wanted him to send them $2,400 in order to send an installation crew to place a decal and wrap the car.
Check looked suspicious
Because the check looked suspicious, Berry took it to his bank, asked the manager to inspect it, it was bogus.
There are legitimate car wrapping businesses in East Tennessee.
Steve Carro operates the Great American Sign company out of Knoxville.
“Well, we print it, we laminate it,” says Carro as he points to a decal. “From this point down is one piece.”
Steve says he receives inquiries from people asking if they can make extra money by having their cars wrapped. The advertisements are OK for local businesses, but not for individuals in East Tennessee.
Just not enough eyeballs
“That might work in a Nashville, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston — you are talking cities that are five times the population of Knoxville. Just not enough eyeballs.”
Back in Morristown, Doug’s car would never have been wrapped because the person who sent the check was a scammer. The check would have bounced and Doug would have been responsible for the money sent off.
“There are people out there who are being taken from this everyday. I don’t want anyone around here or anywhere else to get taken from this,” Berry said. “These people need to be stopped.”
The car wrap angle is a new twist – very modern, very alluring to people looking to make easy money. But, if you get a message urging you to deposit a check and wire money back, the Federal Trade Commission says it’s a scam – every time, no matter the story.