Cars are a common target for criminals, because they provide thieves with various opportunities to make quick money. You may be concerned that your car could be stolen or valuables stolen if you leave your car behind doors unlocked. But sometimes thieves aren’t interested in the wallet or cell phone in your front seat; instead, they use your car as bait to steal from you in a more creative way. Read on to find out what people should be putting on their cars right now and why the police are telling you to be wary of this offer.
The latest vehicle scam is just one of many that criminals have created. Over the summer, police in Fairfax County, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia received reports of: fraudulent parking tickets left on people’s cars. The tickets found in both states were compelling and used authentic-looking seals and formal language to fool victims. Tickets in Atlanta even had a QR code printed on them. Upon scanning, it opened an illegitimate payment website called “ATL Citations”.
QR codes have also been used in a parking meter scheme, where criminals put stickers on meters in the hopes that people will scan them and pay again through a fraudulent website. Now, scammers don’t target your car in public settings – they try to scam you while you are at home.
Mail scams are quite common and a new one has just surfaced in New York. On October 17, police in Waverly issued a warning after receiving a disturbing report from a villager. According to a Facebook post, the resident received “a letter from a fraudulent company‘, asking him to pay to put vinyl decals on his car.
There are companies that will pay you to put stickers or wraps on your car, essentially if: mobile advertising for brands, according to DollarSprout. This can be a quick and easy way to make money, but the Waverly Police Department (WPD) asks you to be wary of which companies you partner with.
According to WPD’s scam alert, the fraudsters added a fake check “with ill-worded instructions to have the check deposited.” After depositing, the letter instructed the Waverly resident to “transfer a large portion of the funds to the company quickly.” As payment for advertising, the resident was told that he could keep a small part of the deposit for himself.
“The resident would be paid in Amazon gift cards in future installments,” the WPD said in the Facebook post. “Luckily, he knew right away that this was a scam and contacted us to let us know.”
To stay safe, police warned residents to keep an eye out for these scams and avoid depositing checks from an “unknown source.”
Unfortunately, these scams have been happening for years. In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned of “car wrap scams” and: how to recognize them. The agency warned that a message asking you to deposit a check and return money is a dead giveaway, much like it was in the Waverly case.
The deposited check returns after you’ve already transferred the requested money – and if it does, you’re out of luck. “The money you held as ‘your share’ disappears, and the money you transferred is long gone — you won’t get it back,” the FTC said. “Besides, you’re lurking because you’re paying your bank back for the counterfeit check. And of course, nobody packs your car.”
Carwrap schemes skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to AARP, taking advantage of the fact that many had lost their jobs and were looking for income. Hard copy letters aren’t the only way you can be targeted either. You may receive a text message or see an ad on a job or social media site promoting an energy drink, soda, or snack, and according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you may be asked to pay through a money transfer app like Venmo or Cash App instead of bank transfer.