Bay area job seekers: Beware of car wrap scam

A brand new scam is claiming its share of victims in the Bay area.

A local man is warning others in the Bay area after scammers targeted him in an employment scam.

“My concern was the viewers, they should be aware this is going on, and if it happened to me it can happen to you,” says Richard Davis from Riverview.

Criminals are promising a job with Red Bull that will give your bank account wings, Davis discovered it’s a con to swindle your cash.

An email offer from Red Bull sounded like a good deal to the 55-year-old: cash to wrap his car.

“No less than $420 a week to advertise your car or truck with us. I applied. They asked for a bunch of information,” says Davis. Including his home address. Then, money showed up in the mail.

“Here's a check in a blank envelope with a cashier’s check for $1,700,” says Davis. The “employer” gave him instructions:  “Cash the check, keep the $420 for your first week’s pay, and the rest of the money is going to the auto detailer that's going to put the car wrap on your car. Who pre-pays someone to do work for them? Right there, that was a huge red flag for me,” Davis says.

He was supposed to wire $1,200 to a detailer named “Chidima Emefiena”.

Davis didn't cash the check after confirming with the Texas bank that it's a fake. It could've given the scammers access to the real money in his account. That's when he started getting dozens of harassing texts and emails.

“You better hire a lawyer, because you're trying to steal money from our company. I really kind of got scared, because I got to thinking someone's going to come after me,” says Davis.

A search of the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker reveals Davis isn't alone. Three other people have reported similar car wrap scams in the Bay area. One person reports losing $1,950.

“We have tracked them before, but most of these scams are coming from overseas,” says Detective Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

McKinnon says it's tough to track down these scammers, so we need to outsmart them.

“Make an agreement to have their attorney or a representative meet you at the police station, and I guarantee you'll never get another call back,” McKinnon says.

Davis took McKinnon’s suggestion to put a wrap on this scam.

“No question, they pick the wrong person to scam,” says Davis.

The Better Business Bureau says scammers often target job seekers from online resumes.

BBB offers the following tips for anyone solicited about a vehicle wrap offer:

  • Understand that such an offer is usually a scam.  To be certain, contact BBB or the company being advertised directly to inquire about the offer.
  • Do not send money to anyone you do not know, especially cash or wire transfers.
  • Be especially wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls, texts or postal letters. These are usually scams.
  • Don’t respond to any messages that ask for personal or financial information.
  • Check a business’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org
  • If someone urges you to wire money, it’s probably a scam. Con artists often insist that people wire money because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction and follow the money.
  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, either in cash or through a wire transfer service. Consider using a payment option that provides protection.
  • Don’t agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back. No matter how convincing the story, it’s a lie.  
  • Don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial information, regardless of whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text, or an ad.  

Should you get an offer that requires you to deposit a check and wire money back, throw it out. Legitimate companies don’t pay you by asking you to wire money to them. If you’re tempted to investigate the offer, ask for a check drawn from a local bank or local branch. Then, visit the bank in person, give them the check, but don’t withdraw any funds until your bank tells you the check is valid.


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