Nova Scotia

How a Dartmouth man outsmarted the car wrapping scam

A text message promising $300 a week was tempting — until the first cheque arrived and raised suspicions.

A text message promising $300 a week was tempting — until the first cheque arrived

Lois Smith looked into this seemingly enticing deal for extra cash for her son, but said it nearly cost him thousands of dollars. (Submitted by Angela Day)

An enticing text message promising $300 a week to someone willing to have their car wrapped in advertisements nearly swindled a Dartmouth man out of thousands of dollars, but a bank teller was able to intervene.

Lois Smith said she was the one who encouraged her son Andrew, 30, to look into the offer that was sent to her phone. She said her son "works paycheque to paycheque" and so she thought car wrapping could help.

"I had dismissed it a couple of times and then I thought maybe I could look into that. I opened it up and there is an email and it said 'if you're interested, it's a car wrap company for advertising. It's really easy,'" said Smith.

Questionable cheque

Lois Smith said the signature in the cheque looked questionable.

Smith sent information to the company — including her son's name, his car's make and model, his address and the length of time he would be willing to keep the car wrap. She said the next day, she received an email with news that her son was approved.

"This is all through email. [The company] said we'll send Andrew a cheque in the mail and as soon as he gets the cheque, let us know when he receives it," said Smith.

The cheque arrived in the mail a few days later. When it arrived, Smith said it looked legitimate. But she said her son noticed something was off about it. He said the signature line on the cheque looked like someone had written in it twice.

Smith said she assured her son the cheque was fine but that he should get the teller at the bank to examine it.

Teller saves the day

"He goes in and he shows the teller, he gives her the little story of what happened ... [the teller] said 'my spider senses are tingling but we'll check it out. Give us a few days and we'll check it out,'" said Smith.

"A day or two later, the bank calls my son and said 'no, Andrew, that is a fraudulent cheque.' From there we kind of went, 'oh we've been scammed' and of course I feel stupid and I feel bad because I had my son's hopes up."

Smith said part of the reason the scam appeared so convincing is because real company names were used. A senior specialist with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said scammers generally hide behind the names of legitimate companies.

'Horrible what these people are doing'

Keen to earn some extra money while back in school full time, Louanne Cataford, 19, responded to a text offering to turn her car into a mobile billboard for $300 a week. (Dennis Cleary/CBC)

She said reading Louanne Cataford's story, reported by CBC News on Thursday, inspired her to speak out.

"Thank God my son thought that we should get [the cheque] checked out first," said Smith. "This is horrible what these people are doing."

Cataford deposited the cheque for $3,985 and was told by the company to keep $300 of it for herself. She was then told to deposit the rest in cash into the CIBC account of the graphic artist who was to wrap the ad on her car. She did and then quickly learned the cheque was bogus and was on the hook for the money she deposited.

Cataford's bank was able to clear up the mistake so she would not have to pay the money back.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.