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Pitch to turn your car into an ad is a scam

If you need to make some cash, an email pitching an easy $1,200 a month (or more) to turn your car into a mobile advertisement might catch your eye. But you'll want to exercise restraint. It's a scam.

The Better Business Bureau on Monday issued a warning about the car wrapping scam, a crooked attempt to part you from your money with the idea that all you would have to do to cash in is wrap your car in a company logo and go about your normal business.

Most often, the company mentioned in the scammers' emails is Monster Energy. But it doesn't have to be a pitch to wrap your car in the Monster logo -- the BBB notes that Coca-Cola and Heineken are two other brands whose names have been used in the scam.

Here's how it works: You get an email that says you can make $300 or more, according to the BBB, by driving around with your car wrapped in a company logo. You don't have to drive anywhere beyond your normal routine.

You'll then be asked to provide your contact information and details about your car. The next step -- and this is where the scam escalates -- is you will be told that you have an upfront payment coming.

A check will arrive for far more than the amount you're being paid. But you're told that it is to cover the cost of designing and/or applying the wrap for your car. All you have to do is wire the difference to the person handling that.

If you don't stop the process there, you'll be out however much money you wire. Even though you were able to deposit the check you'll find out later that it was a fake. It can take a week or more for your bank to notify you that a check you deposited was no good.

Overpayment scams are common, just changing forms in order to find a scenario plausible enough for someone to buy into.

Here are some tips to help avoid them:

  • No real job will overpay you and have you send the balance elsewhere. If that's the deal, it's a scam.
  • If you get an opportunity to make money via an unsolicited email, be extremely skeptical. Search online to see if others have gotten similar pitches.
  • Be skeptical of any job or money-making opportunity in which you get the job or opportunity without any application or conversation.
  • Watch out for poor grammar and mistakes in the email. An ad agency working for a major brand isn't likely to send an email in broken English.
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