5 On Your Side

5 On Your Side: Part-time job involving advertising on car is a scam

Posted September 21, 2020 4:21 p.m. EDT
Updated September 21, 2020 5:53 p.m. EDT

It sounded like an easy opportunity to make some extra money, getting paid to advertise on your car. But when the viewer realized it sounded too easy, she contacted 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte.

The unsolicited text seemed simple enough: get paid to drive around with advertising on your car.

"I wrote back and said, ‘I’m interested,’" recounted Sunny Miller, who owns Raleigh’s Adara Spa. “With the economy being down, business being down, you know, I was like this is a perfect part-time job that doesn’t take me away from my full time job.”

Weeks later, a large envelope arrived with a letter and certified check for $2,950.

"It was one of the things that it was just too fishy," added Miller.

Red flags went up and she did some digging.

The first red flag was the email the offer came from.

"You see autowrapcampaign@gmail.com. It’s very rare that you see a company with a Gmail address," said Miller.

Miller then looked into the supposed company.

"This company, Northwest Company, has a one-star rating on Google," she said.

Finally, the name on the letter, Amy Alt from Cincinnati, Ohio.

"Where’d you come from Amy?” said Miller.

Then she received a slew of text messages. One asked,” This check has been delivered to your address, why silent? (sic)" While another text said, "Hello, why silent whats {sic} the situation with the advertisement check Do you have it deposited now?"

5 On Your Side warns there are many varieties of this scam, but they always involve a real-looking certified check that you deposit, then send a portion to someone.

In Miller’s case, it would have likely been sent to the non-existent car wrap installer.

Beware, even though banks have to make funds available within days, that does not mean the check is good – verification can take weeks. Until a bank confirms the check has cleared, the customer is responsible for any money withdrawn on that check.

The Federal Trade Commission said complaints are increasing, and so is the amount of money people lose.

"I don’t have $3,000 to lose," said Miller.

Some companies do pay people to use their cars for advertising, but they don’t hire through a text message, and they don’t pay that kind of money.

When Miller realized what this was, she reached out to 5 On Your Side so that others don’t get taken advantage of.

"We have a pandemic, we have other things going on. We should be pulling together. Instead, you have people looking for ways to be piranhas on other people," she said.

Bottom line, any "opportunity" that involves you depositing a check and giving money back through wire or gift cards, is a scam.

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