HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new twist on an age-old scam is prompting an alert from the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.
24 Hour News 8 has told you about the car wrap scam before. You get a message online offering money to drive around with ads on your car. You then get a check, cash it and are asked to send part of the money on to whoever will wrap the car. But then, you find out the check was no good and you’re out money — often hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
“The standard car wrap scam usually comes online in some way,” BBB communications manager Troy Baker told 24 Hour News 8. “Either through social media or you get an email.”
But not this time.
The latest victim is a woman from the Hastings area.
The scam was published as an ad in a weekly newspaper: The Hastings Reminder.
“People start to think there’s a little more credibility there. Somebody actually paid for this ad to be put in the classified section with all the other job offers. So it’s gotta be good, right? And it’s not,” Baker said.
It turns out, the ad also ran in two other weekly West Michigan papers: The Battle Creek Shopper and the Marshall Ad-visor and Chronicle.
“None of us want to get involved in a scam -— especially to our readers,” Fred Jacobs told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. He’s the CEO of J-Ad Graphics, which publishes the aforementioned papers and six others in the region.
Jacobs said a woman came into their Battle Creek office, used a credit card to pay for the ad up front, and they published it.
Be he said once he spotted it, he questioned its validity and prevented it from running again.
They then realized the credit card payment was no good.
“I haven’t had this situation in years, but we have had it over the years,” Jacobs explained.
“I’ve been in this business for 50 years and have seen it all one time or another. But this one is rare in that they sent a person. And made a personal contact,” he continued.
The woman did give a name, number and address while placing the ad, but both Jacobs and the BBB suspect she may be roped in to the scam too and not even know what she’s part of.
J-Ad Graphics said they contact the Michigan Press Association to alert other publications about the fraudulent advertisement.
Hastings police are now investigating and the BBB urges any possible victims to give them call.
“We were contacted by one victim,” Baker said. “Who knows how many saw it or gave it a try?”