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Recently, our Office received a complaint from a small business about a text message scam in which scammers were using their business’ name.

The business began receiving emails and calls from consumers asking about opportunities to be paid in return for advertising on behalf of the company using decals on their cars. This is not an advertising tactic that this company utilizes.

Unfortunately, this type of scam is not new – it’s called the ‘car wrap’ employment scam. The Better Business Bureau issued a warning in 2015 for this very scam in which popular brands like Monster Energy, Coca Cola, Heineken, Bud Light and 7UP were impersonated.

The scams works like this:

Scammers send out messages (text or email) impersonating a company, telling consumers that if they advertise the brand on their vehicle they will be rewarded with payment. For example, one consumer reported that he received an email claiming to pay him $700 a week to wrap his car with a 7UP logo.

Victims are asked to reply with contact information and vehicle details, and in some cases receive a fake check as an “up-front payment.” They are then instructed to forward a large portion of money to a third party to handle expenses for wrapping the vehicle. Wiring the money is an untraceable tactic and it’s impossible to recover the money once it is received.

How to deal with the scam as a business:

If your company is being impersonated in these messages, the best thing for your company to do is inform your customers. Tell them that these messages are fraudulent and are not coming from you, and that they should act cautiously if they do receive them.

Post a notice on your website and share the information via social media.

How to deal with the scam as a consumer:

If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone asks you to wire or send money, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate companies will not ask you to wire money to them. If a company “overpays” you and asks you to wire money to a third party, it is a scam.

Check spelling and grammar! Sometimes these messages contain obvious grammatical errors, which is a red flag.

Search for the job online and check if the company is really posting these positions. If they really are offering the position, apply for the job directly with the company.

If you have fallen victim to this scam, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

 

Can you really make money by wrapping your car?

Yes, there are legitimate companies that will pay you to advertise on your vehicle. Seek these companies out and apply through their website and not through any suspicious texts or emails.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

 

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