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Yes, unsolicited texts offering money for putting advertisements on cars are scams

The AARP says complaints about these kinds of scams rose during the pandemic as millions found themselves without work.
Credit: AP
In this photo taken July 19, 2011, Odade Palmer applies an advertising wrap to a car in the Budget Rent A Car rental car pool in Sandy Springs, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Easy money can be a tempting offer, especially when all you have to do in return is place a sticker on your car.

That’s what several VERIFY readers say they were promised in text messages they received recently. One message promised as much as $1,500 bi-weekly in exchange for putting a Dr. Pepper decal on a vehicle. Another said a beer company would pay $400 a week for allowing their “ad sticker” to go on a car or truck.

THE QUESTION

Are unsolicited text messages offering people money to put ads on their cars scams?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, unsolicited text messages offering money in exchange for putting ads on a car are scams.

WHAT WE FOUND

While there are legitimate companies that pay people to wrap their car with an advertisement, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and AARP says car wrap scams have grown increasingly popular and are used to trick victims into sending the scammer money. 

A “wrap” is a large vinyl sticker or decal that goes over the paint job of a car, says InSight Sign Company, which specializes in wrapping vehicles. A wrap can cover the full vehicle or just part of the vehicle.

Here’s how it works: A person will message you offering money — often a few hundred dollars a week — to place a decal on your car or wrap it to advertise a company, the FTC says. The company eventually sends you a check for a few thousand dollars, telling you to keep your share and forward the rest to another company that will wrap your car.

But the check bounces, sometimes a week later, with a notice from your bank that the check is fake. The money you forwarded to the “other company” is gone, and you’re on the hook for paying the bank back for the bounced check.

As for the text message a VERIFY viewer received about advertising Dr. Pepper on their vehicle, that’s fake, a Dr. Pepper spokesperson confirmed to VERIFY.

“We do not have any program offering to wrap cars in advertising graphics in exchange for compensation for any of our brands,” said a spokesperson for Keurig Dr Pepper. “This is unfortunately a scam that uses the names of popular consumer brands to get people to respond.” 

“If approached with such an offer, consumers should not respond and most definitely do not send or wire money or provide their bank account number, credit card number, social security number or any other personal information and notify their local law enforcement immediately,” the spokesperson added.

The AARP says complaints about these kinds of scams rose during the pandemic as millions found themselves without work. But there are several red flags that can indicate the offer you’re getting is a scam.

The FTC says that in all cases where you’re sent a check with instructions to send money back, it’s a scam. These fake check or overpayment scams take advantage of a law that requires banks to make deposited funds available quickly. The bank will deposit money to your account before finding out the check is a fake, which the bank may not learn for several days or weeks later.

“Finding out about a bad check can take weeks, so it’s best to wait 30 days before spending the money from a check if you have any concerns about it,” the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned in a 2021 alert about car wrap scams.

The BBB says these scams often have the victim send money to the “other company” wrapping their car through a payment app like CashApp or Venmo. That’s one reason it’s a good idea to only use these money transfer apps to send money to people you personally know, the BBB says.

The scam isn’t limited to cars, either. The FTC says the scammer might make the offer to someone with a truck or motorcycle. The AARP says even ads on bicycles and boats are promoted by scammers.

Legitimate car wrapping companies, such as Carvetise, typically only make offers to people who have applied to participate first. Carvetise also only makes offers to people who meet certain requirements: a driver must drive at least 30 miles a day, be licensed and insured, own a 2009 car model or newer, own a car with a factory finish paint job and be able to pass an interview and background check.

More from VERIFY: No, the federal government is not giving away free solar panels

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