Written by: Classii Toronto Classifieds on October 29, 2017

A scam that left a Montreal student out about $4,000 is circulating in Toronto, with would-be victims receiving text messages promising them $300 a week to wrap their cars in advertisements.

“Anytime I get a text that comes from nowhere and I don’t know who it is, generally my spidey senses go off,” she said.

Day shared the post on Facebook the next day, hoping to alert people who might be taken in.

Scam exploits banking system

Louanne Cataford, a college student in Montreal, received the same text as Day this past August.

She was short on cash and so she replied to it, receiving convincing, detailed replies about how the car wrapping program worked.

After some correspondence, Cataford was mailed a cheque for $3,985, and was told to deposit all but $300 into the CIBC account of the graphic artist who was to wrap the ad on her car.

The cheque cleared after five days, and, believing that meant that the program was legitimate, Cataford did as she was told, depositing the money and keeping the $300 for herself as an upfront payment.

One week later, she was told by her credit union that the cheque was counterfeit, and that she was on the hook to reimburse her bank.

She never heard from the person she had been corresponding with about the program again.

Scam has been around since last spring

Daniel Williams, a specialist at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said the car-wrap scammers will often hide behind legitimate company names.

In Cataford’s case, the scammers e-mailed her under the guise of Eden Water and Coffee, a legitimate European company.

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.
It was another near victim of the scam, someone in New Brunswick, who helped uncover the fraud in the first place.

The scammers had been sending victims counterfeit cheques which appeared to be issued by a customs brokerage firm in Fort Erie, Ont.

When the person in New Brunswick received the cheque, they followed up with the Ontario firm, who confirmed that they had not issued the cheque and that it was a fake.

For Cataford, it’s a happy ending; after a meeting with officials at her bank, they determined that she would not have to pay back the money.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Day hopes that people will be vigilant about texts that come in from strange numbers.