As a fairly seasoned blogger I receive pitches all day, every day (no complaints there). I also work with a few big-name companies and receive compensation or products from them on a regular basis. So, I didn't think much when Crystal Light contacted me wanting to use my vehicle for promotional advertising via the use of a car wrap.
The gist was that in exchange for twelve weeks of a Crystal Light car wrap on my vehicle, I'd receive a fairly good amount of money. The company asked for my basic details such as name, address, and vehicle type. I should've went with my gut feeling the first time when I emailed the company back asking if they could provide credentials that they were legit. I hadn't received an answer but that is somewhat routine because I tend to send emails in the middle of the night.
After a few days I emailed the company back asking if they were still interested and if they could provide credentials. They responded and assured me it was the real deal and gave me vague "credentials". I even asked if we could talk by phone and the person advised they had no problem giving me a call the next week to discuss details and inquiries. They also assured me I'd have to send no financial information to them. They weren't asking for any of my bank info and I could wait until the check cleared before going further. After a few more email exchanges, I thought it was the Real McCoy.
Then it started to get sketchy again. I received this email:
You will receive a Certified Check from our company, which should be cashed for the decal wrapping on your car, deduct $500.00 as your up-front payment. The rest of the funds should be transferred to the Graphic artist who will be responsible for wrapping the decal on your car.
You will make a transfer of funds to the Graphic artist, the Information of the Graphic artist will be sent to you.
That should've been my first clue but, NOPE!, I was still suckered in.
A few days later I received an email letting me know "the office" would be in touch to inform me of payment and information of the graphic artist. The "office" got a hold of me and discussed that a check would be sent. After some more discussion, I received details on my check and that it would be sent priority mail that day, and to let them know as soon as it arrived.
The check didn't come that day so I let them know and I also explained I'd be in touch as soon as it had. I was even giving a tracking number to get an estimate of when I'd receive it.
The next day I woke up in the afternoon (because I work graveyard shift) and noticed a text from the person I'd been corresponding with. He wanted to know if I'd had any updates on the check. I went to my mail and noticed the check had indeed arrived. The check was for my $500 payment, plus an extra $1450 for the graphic artist.
I came thiiiiis close to putting on my clothes and heading straight to the bank to deposit the check and get the ball rolling. But a nagging feeling (put in by the good Lord) made me stop in my tracks and decide to do some online research. I spent a good two hours verifying emails, phone numbers, and reading up on auto wrap scams. What I found out is that I almost got had!
The bank that the check came from was valid according to the Internet, so I gave them a rang. They verified that the account had been closed due to fraudulent checks.
If I had not of stopped dead in my tracks and done my research, what would've happened is that I would have cashed my $500 portion and the company would email me again telling me I needed to wire transfer the rest of the monies to the graphic artist. In a nutshell, that means I would've been sending money to the scam artist and I would've been out a boatload of money. And I would've cried...A LOT.
If you receive an email wanting a company to auto wrap your car, delete it and don't look back. I thought I was pretty keen on knowing a scam. I thought I could spot one a mile away. I thought wrong.
Luckily, the smart side of my brain kicked in and did some good ole' detective work. It's cliche to say but "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!".