CLEVELAND — Wouldn't it be nice to get paid to drive to work, home, even the grocery store? Sure, but look out, because crooks are trying to get your money. Here’s a big warning about car wrap scams hitting Northeast Ohio.
"At Christmas time, I was looking to make extra money,” said Rita Perone-Bush, 49, from Ashtabula. She found an ad on Facebook.
"The main thing that grabbed my eye is it said you can make anywhere from $250-$500 for the week for driving around,” she said. All she had to do was have her car wrapped with a Lay's Potato Chip ad. "It looked legit because it was from a main company,” said Perone-Bush. “You don't think Lay's Potato Chips would have a scam, ever."
About a month later, she got a packet via priority mail complete with a Lay's logo.
"They use very well-known brands to make it sound even more credible,” Sue McConnell said. She’s the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland. She told us they see this scam a lot. "Seems like easy money and you don't even have to pay to get the car wrapped in the ad,” McConnell said.
But the devil is in the details. Perone-Bush read the instructions that said deposit the check, leave $500 for yourself and then send the rest of the money to pay the supposed installation guy.
"It was really fishy and at that time I got really mad and upset, naturally,” Peron-Bush said. She was upset because she then knew the nearly $3,000 check isn't real despite the criminals using an actual credit union's logo out of California.
"They know that these scams work,” said McConnell. “Even if they only work a small percentage of the time, they still make money at them,” she added.
A quick internet search shows this has been going on for a while with the same kind tactics like using text messages only. And if you deposit the check on the day of delivery, you get a $200 Amazon gift card.
We found complaints on the BBB’s Scam Tracker site. One complaint was filed just last week using the Heineken beer company's name.
The FTC has sent out warnings recently about car wrap scams, some even targeting broke college kids. The crooks don't care.
"They're criminals and they're often organized gangs of criminals that are using us to make a quick buck,” said McConnell.
Thankfully, Perone-Bush lost no money, but she is stepping forward to help you avoid being taken for a ride.
"There are many people who've cashed that check who are in a lot of trouble right now,” Perone-Bush told us. “And I don't want to see anybody else go through this."
McConnell said no company is going to reach out to you to wrap a car. Plus, do your research on any offer you see on the internet and make sure the ad is not a scam.