New scam trend promises quick, easy money, TDIC warns
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is warning the public about a new scam trend.
Scammers are asking people to advertise a well-known company or product by adding a decal to their vehicle. The scammers are luring people by asking if they want to make a weekly income of $500-$700 a week by placing the advertising decal or "wrap" on their car.
Consumers who agree will receive a check instructing them to keep a portion of the money and send the rest to the wrap or decal installer via bank or wire transfer or reloadable gift cards. Once the money is sent to the "installer," no one ever comes to do the work.
The check turns out to be fake, and the consumer is left on the hook.
"Banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but it may take weeks to uncover a fake check," a TDIC spokesperson explained.
The consumer ends up having to pay for the entire amount of the fake check.
“A phony check scam is a tried and true scheme, and scammers are constantly crafting new variations of the scam to take advantage of hardworking Tennesseans,” TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “We’re encouraging consumers to keep on the lookout for suspicious offers that promise fast, easy money. Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
TDIC's Division of Consumer Affairs said these tips from the American Bankers Association could save you from falling victim to a scam.
- Never fall for a promise of “easy money.” The promise of easy money can end up costing you. Scammers offer a decal advertisement, work-from-home job, or a prize you have to pay for from a well-known company. If you call the company, though, they will likely tell you they don’t pay individuals to promote their products—only employees.
- Even if a check “clears”, you may not be in the clear. Banks must make deposited funds available quickly. Just because you can withdraw the funds doesn’t mean the check has cleared—even if it’s a cashier’s check or money order. If you have questions about whether a check is legitimate, talk with your banker. Be sure to explain the check’s source, the reason it was sent to you, and whether you are being asked to wire or send money back.
- Don’t be fooled by official-looking checks. Scammers have access to sophisticated technology that allows them to create counterfeit checks that have the appearance of legitimate checks. Scammers can replicate cashier checks and money orders so that they appear to be from legitimate business accounts.
- Never send money to someone you don’t know. Bank transfers, wire transfers, and reloadable gift cards are all quick ways for a scammer to take off with your money. If a company is looking to employ you, request that they make the payment for installation or equipment.
- If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, speak up. A stronger Tennessee starts with you. If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud or a scam, tell someone. Talk with bank staff if you suspect a fake check. Report scams or fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and TDCI to ensure others don’t fall victim to the same tactics.