SCAM Wrap Your Car for $300 a Week
FedEx dropped off packages to me like they often do and one of them was a flat envelope. Since I enter tons of sweepstakes, I know that the flat envelopes usually contain either a winning affidavit for a big prize or a check/gift card. My son was standing next to me and saw my jaw hit the floor when I opened it to find a check for over $2000. There was no letter, no note, nothing else inside. I took a photo of it and deposited it electronically into my bank. I started doing some research to determine which sweepstakes I won, when I received an email from the car wrap company telling me to expect a check via FedEx.
The email told me to verify when the funds were deposited, to which I replied that I had. Then I was informed that the funds should be available in 24 hours and I should withdraw all but $300 of it, which was my first week's pre-payment for the car wrap. The "hiring manager" even called me to verify that I deposited the check and understood my next step. The next step was to make sure the rest of the funds would be used to pay the graphic artist who would wrap my car. Up to this point, I was okay with the arrangement. Then came the kicker - the $2000 would be used to purchase a money-gram to be wired to the parent company of the graphic artist and the artist would bring out my ad contract paperwork to sign when he came to wrap the car. At this point, the red flag went up and I realized I almost got scammed.
I called my bank and told them that the check that was deposited is likely going to be returned as a bad check. They have placed a note on my account to reverse any charges that may occur when it comes back. I then researched the company's name that was on the check and discovered it is a little gift shop in Hawaii. I called them and spoke to a cashier who had the owners call me back. Apparently it is their real bank account number on the check and they'd been trying all day to figure out why their bank was being hit with multiple check-cashings for the exact amount I received. They already had their local police department working on it. They were so thankful I had contacted them with the information. I sent them copies of the evidence.
I've now spoken to my local PD and turned over the original evidence to them in hopes we can nail this guy before he scams too many people. Maybe there are some fingerprints (besides mine) on the check and FedEx invoice. Thankfully this has not cost me any money. Beware of this scam and others like it!
THINGS TO KNOW:
1. It takes 7-21 days for a check you deposit in your bank to "really clear." When you deposit a check, the bank sends the information to the central clearinghouse, who sends it to the check-writer's bank, who verifies the funds are available. Your bank may be nice enough to release the funds to you, but if a check comes back bad, YOU are responsible for any funds you have withdrawn and used. THE RED FLAG - withdraw funds, buy money order, wire it to an individual somewhere else. (By the time the check comes back bad, you've already sent a money order that was cashed by those perpetrating the scam.)
2. A contract with a company should always be signed BEFORE money changes hands. THE RED FLAG - the artist who comes to your house to wrap your car will bring the ad contracts with him.
3. Find out who you're working with and do your research. THE RED FLAG - The first two emails came from one email and the rest came from another similar email. Also the company website for the product ad that my car would be wrapped with does not look very legitimate.
4. Examine everything carefully. THE RED FLAG - The name on the check was unrelated to the car wrap ad campaign, was from another state (Hawaii), and was signed with what looked to be a computer-generated signature that was hard to read.
At this point, he is still emailing me asking me when I can get to the "available funds" in my account. I've told him the bank has not released the funds to me yet. I hope they catch him!
Labels: Living Well