HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Hastings man reached out to Target 8 when his wife got an unusual job offer via email: She could make $500 per week if she just wrapped her car in a Dr. Pepper decal.
“I’d said, ‘Wouldn’t that be nice to get paid for just driving around,’” Troy Anderson recalled.
But almost immediately, there were red flags that it was a scam.
“It looks like a copied logo,” Anderson said, referring to the Dr. Pepper logo on the letter his wife received after she signed up for the job online. “I think Dr. Pepper would probably be able to afford stationary.”
The letter, which was supposedly from an individual named Andrew Cole, was accompanied by a check for $1,998. The writer instructed Anderson’s wife to deposit the check and send a copy of the deposit slip to a gmail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You will Deduct $250 Being Your 1st Week Wage, the Rest Of the Fund Is the Payment to Cover the Decal,” read the letter.
In addition to random capitalization and poor grammar throughout the letter, Anderson thought it odd that the “company” never asked about his wife’s car.
“I would think they would ask the year and make of the car,” Anderson told Target 8. “Is it dented? Just looking at some of the vehicles you see out on the road, you probably wouldn’t (want to) associate your company with all of them.”
Fortunately, Anderson and his wife didn’t take the bait.
“I didn’t want to put it in our account and be on the hook for funds that weren’t going to be there,” Anderson said. “I was suspicious.”
BBB: UPFRONT PAYMENT A WARNING SIGN
The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan told Target 8 that scammers have used the “car wrap” scam on and off for years and that it recently resurfaced.
The BBB has received several complaints.
“Once you’ve deposited this fake check, (the scammers ask you) to pass along that money to the car wrapping folks,” John Masterson from the BBB said. “It is typically a red flag is someone overpays you for your first (check) and then asks you to wire money elsewhere.”
While it seems like common sense would tell recipients that it’s a scam, Masterson said it’s a “numbers game” to the crooks.
“They’re really playing the odds that if they try and target everyone, they may get one or two, and that’s all they really need for a payday,” Masterson said.
When Target 8 asked Masterson if a legitimate job offer would ever make an applicant pay upfront, he responded, “Absolutely not.”
Target 8 sent an email to the gmail address the “company” provided, but got no response.
We also tracked the return addresses on the mailings the Andersons received. The letters and checks came from Ohio, Oklahoma and California, but none of the addresses came back to actual companies.
DR. PEPPER: NOTHING NEW ABOUT SCAM
A spokesperson with Dr. Pepper Snapple Group told Target 8 the company is aware of the scam, which has been around for some time and involved a number of consumer brands, not just Dr. Pepper.
The Dr. Pepper Snapple website even addresses the scam in its FAQ section.
“We do not have a program offering to wrap cars in advertising graphics for any of our brands,“ reads the relevant section on the FAQ. “Do not respond and most definitely do not send or wire the money or provide your bank account number, credit card number, social security number or any other personal information.”
The company also group referred consumers to an article by the Federal Trade Commission with tips on how to spot a scam.