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Local News

The public has to stay alert for scams with new ones surfacing and old ones resurfacing all the time. This caution comes from Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt.

 

The BBB Serving Western Michigan is warning the public about a classified ad published in a local newspaper that is advertising a car-wrapping scam. A Hastings woman contacted the BBB after falling victim to the scam.

 

The classified ad promises people can make $300-$400 per week by simply driving their car. According to the victim, after responding to the email address in the ad she was sent a check. The instructions were for her to cash the check, keep several hundred dollars as her first payment, and forward the rest to a third party.

 

This is a classic check scam. The check she deposited turned out to be fake, and she is now responsible for paying back the bank for the full amount withdrawn.

 

 “We hear about these scams coming by email or social media, but finding the scammers in the classified section of a newspaper is unusual,” said Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.

 

“This is a good example of how scams can be found anywhere.” The publisher of the newspaper tells the BBB a local resident placed the ad, but it is unclear if they knew it was a scam or how they became involved. BBB investigators have found the same email address used in this ad in others posted in newspapers around the country for similar car-wrapping schemes and for a job as a personal assistant.

 

Check scams were among the riskiest scams reported to the BBB ScamTracker in 2018. The median loss in check scams reported to BBB was $1,500, among the highest losses of any type of scam on the 2018 list.

 

The BBB has the following tips for those who come across offers such as this:

 

*Most car wrap offers are scams. While there are some companies that do legitimately advertise by wrapping cars, they are going to want specific information about you and your car up front. This includes information about how much you drive, when and where you drive, and information about your vehicle. Many legitimate companies will cover the cost of wrapping the vehicle for you.

 

*The check should be for the exact amount. A paycheck should be for the expected amount. If you are asked to cash a larger check and forward much of the money on to someone else, it is likely a scam.

 

 *Beware of wiring money or buying gift cards. Often scammers ask you to wire the money or purchase prepaid cards and send them pictures of the code on the back. This is a red flag that you are involved in a scam.

 

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