Easy money: you could be paid just to drive your car—not

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The text message said Nick Piazza would receive “weekly wages for you carrying out our decal on your car as Agreed,” meaning Nick’s car would be shrink wrapped in a plastic sheet advertising RedBull, a popular energy drink.

Nick was suddenly thinking $500 a week to drive his Cadillac around town as a rolling billboard for RedBull, that would help make the car payments, “They said Nick we will wrap your car, you just have to drive it around, back and to work, you can get $500 a week to do it.”

Piazza took the bait, and he got a check in the mail for $1,998.00–a legitimate looking check on real check stock–to cover his first week’s pay, about $50 for a contractor to wrap his car, and then he was to wire the remainder, to a person in Texas.

Nick read part of the message, “Please send $1450 via Moneygram to the name Jacob Coker in Baytown, Texas, 77521.” Then Nick got really suspicious and for good reason—the check was bogus. If he had cashed it, Piazza would have been on the hook for the entire amount, $1,998, not just his $500.

When it comes to wrapping cars in advertising, they have been doing it at Kustom Workz in Depew for more than 10 years, but owner Mike Penfold says the advertisers use their own drivers. How often do advertisers wrap private passenger cars? Penfold said, “I have yet to see that,” at least not around Western New York.

Penfold also suggests a simple way Piazza, or anyone else can confirm an offer to have their vehicle wrapped in an ad is legitimate, call the advertiser—in this case Red Bull, “and make sure it is true.”

Nick Piazza did not go as far as contacting RedBull, but he is glad he checked with Call 4 Action, and gave that text message offer a second thought, “A little voice said go ahead Nick, take a shot, it will pay for your car. The other one said, come on Nick, it is too good to be true.”

There were news accounts, many years ago, when advertisers were offering drivers off the street to wrap their private vehicles and spread their messages all over town. But experts said insurance, accidents, and the quality of drivers took a toll. Eventually the wrapped car advertising gave way to the Internet.

After a rash of consumer ripoffs by “vehicle graphics” scams the Federal Trade Commission posted a warning against “car wrap” scams here on its blog site, which is almost identical to the scam Nick Piazza avoided.

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