ASK ELLIE: Coca-Cola does not wrap cars and pay people to advertise

Jul 30, 2021 at 08:00 am by Ask Ellie

Scam Alert

Hello Ellie:

I was so excited to earn a little extra money. I was contacted in Facebook Messenger that Dasani Water wanted to wrap my car in an advertising campaign and was going to pay me $500 per week. They asked me for my name and address, actually sent me a check, and then I was going to contact the local vendor who was going to wrap my car. I went to my bank to deposit the check for $1,946.36 and then went home. I thought it was odd the guy contacted me with a New York phone number, the check has a South Carolina Bank and routing, and the name on the check was a construction company, but I deposited anyway.

I texted the guy who contacted me. He told me a vendor was waiting for me in Murfreesboro and I needed to give him, in cash, the balance of the check I deposited right away to buy art supplies. The person told me that I got a check for $1,946.36 and $500 of that was mine for the first week, and I was to give the balance to this art vendor. I was to meet this vendor at the local mall at 5 p.m. with cash. My boyfriend told me it didn’t sound right to him, it was probably a scam, and there was no way I was meeting anyone and giving them cash. I then called my bank, and they said it was a scam. I am thankful they canceled my deposit, or I would have been held responsible for fraud.
Is this something that you have heard of before?
- Scammed in Murfreesboro
Dear Scammed:


Scammers strategically place links on websites to target people, and they also send mass solicitations by Twitter, Facebook, texting, email and other ways. These solicitations often sound very personal, they get your attention, and the thought of free money is very enticing. According to the Federal Trade Commission, anyone who reaches out to you offering any sums of money is usually fraud, always check sources and report fraud immediately.

When a fraudulent entity contacts you, there are a few things that will happen. They will ask you very few questions, your name and address is about it. They will send a check to you via FedEx or USPS and ask you to deposit right away, they want this done same day. After you have deposited the check, they will now want you to pay someone for them to wrap your car with an advertisement, to buy supplies, to ultimately pay by money order or cash to some other party or agent. Your bank will then come back to you and tell you the check you deposited was fraudulent. YOU will be out the money in your account, plus the money you paid someone else. In some cases, you may also be charged with fraud.

Dasani Water is owned by Coca-Cola, Inc. Coca-Cola does not wrap cars and pay people to advertise, they have a rather large marketing department and also have sensitive control over image and branding. If you see an ad on an automobile with a product owned by Coca-Cola, they have wrapped that car themselves, and you are probably looking at a company owned or leased vehicle.

I contacted Coca-Cola and was reassured that what you have encountered was indeed a scam. Also, you said you were asked to have your car wrapped with an advertisement for Dasani Water, yet the check was from a construction company. This is also another clue that you have a fraudulent check and the scammer has stolen the identity of this construction company. If you research and call the company on the check, I would bet the company has had to close that account because of this type of theft.

Car wrapping ads have been a scammers paradise for the last few years. While there are a few car wrapping companies, Carvertise, Nickelytics, and Wrapify for example, there is a long application process, they want to see your car, and if you are selected, the amount of money earned monthly is often very small. Additionally, they wrap your car at the companies expense. They do not ask the recipient to spend any up-front money for any costs, fee’s or services.

Scammers are thieves, they spend all day defrauding people, they work all over the world, and they are very good at committing crimes. While your inquiry was about a car wrapping advertising scheme, there are many others.

If you still have the envelope, any paperwork, and if the bank returned the check, take it all down to the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office or contact the State of Tennessee District Attorneys office, they may need this information for possible prosecution. 

You can also report to the Federal Trade Commission on the site.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, so always be aware of fraud.

- Ellie

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