DA News Flash: Don't Wrap Your Car in a Scam

For release on: November 8, 2017

Suzana Gal, Consumer Mediation Director
Consumer Mediation Services
(408) 792-2845



The District Attorney’s Office is sending out a flash alert warning residents of a recently reported scam offering to pay car owners to display a shrink-wrapped ad on their vehicle.

An elderly resident recently received an email offering to pay her $400/week if she would allow them to wrap a large advertising display around her car. Her first check for $1,900 arrived with instructions to cash the check, keep $400 for the first week, and wire the remainder to the company that would create the ad for her car.

The senior was suspicious. She called the District Attorney’s Consumer Mediation Services program. The mediation team explained to her how the scam works: the check she received was forged, but it would take several days for the bank to verify that it was worthless. The scammers expect that by the time the bank determined that the check was a fake and that there were no funds to cover it, the car owner would already have wired the remaining balance to their accomplice.

Red flags:

  • There is no reason why the company could not pay the wrap installer directly;
  • Checks that require the car owner to cash them and to send the cash to someone else are typical for the “advanced payment” scam;
  • Legitimate businesses seldom send unsolicited email offers of income opportunities;
  • Most companies use their own vehicles or employees’ cars for car wrap advertising.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Search the internet for the name of the company sending you the unsolicited offer, along with words such as “scam,” “car wrap ad,” or “ad on the car”;
  • Ask your bank, or call the issuing bank, to verify the check before depositing a check from an unknown source;
  • If you receive a check, you should wait until the bank informs you that the check has “cleared” before you access any money from the check;
  • If you have any questions or doubts regarding any unsolicited email offers, call Consumer Mediation Services at 408-792-2880.


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News Release


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