Phony ad job scam warning
One of the latest warnings from police about con artists at work concerns an “easy money” scheme targeting people with cars, with special attention paid to young drivers who have just got their first vehicle.
A scam is at work in the Eastern Ontario region involving a phone promotion scheme for popular beverages, including flavoured water and beers. The con artists have website set up and also make use of random emails and text messaging to lure victims with offers of “regular weekly salaries” just for letting their car, van, or truck serve as mobile advertising for soft drinks, bottled water, or beer brands. One well-known company which had its brand name hijacked for the scam is Clearly Canadian, an Ontario-based flavoured water company. Other legitimate brand names may also be used as part of the lure in the fraud.
The key to the scam is that the con artists offer their victims the chance to make money for use of their personal vehicle as a mobile ad for a particular brand, using wraparound decal advertising. The victim is asked to apply online to the “marketing division”, which will then send a cheque for the first week’s salary plus up to $2600 in “expense funds” to cover the cost of the wraparound decal work.
But these cheques are phony. They are fake documents drawn on a bank account that does not exist. The victim can cash the cheque, keep the $300 “salary” and then send the rest of the funds to a “wrapping company” located in Michigan, using either a Western Union wire transfer or other money transfer method. The “wrapping company” will then send someone within a week to do the decal work.
The trick to the scam is that the victim in the end is using their own money from cashing the fake cheque and depositing it to their own account. The money they transfer to the wrapping company is coming from their own chequing account fund. No one shows up later to do any decal wrapping but by then the scammers have removed all trace of their online trail, setting up a new website and email/text system to start all over and lure in another collection of victims using a different hijacked brand name. They depend on the victim’s willingness to believe that the detailed instructions and use of an overnight money transfer system means the offer is legitimate.
Companies which use vehicles with wraparound decal advertising to promote their products do so through their own in-house advertising contacts, not through random emails or text messages.
Anyone receiving emails or text messages or finding a website which makes this kind of offer should contact either their local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, toll-free, at 1-888-495-8501 or report it online at www. antifraudcentre.ca.