I was contacted by Michael Underwood, who claimed to represent Monster Energy drinks. He said if I wrapped my personal vehicle with advertising I could earn $300 a week, and get enough Monster Energy drinks to give me permanent kidney damage. Who could resist such an offer?
The original email which failed to be captured in my spam folder enticed me with a simple question:
Hello, Would you wrap your car, bus, truck, van or bicycle in an Ad and earn $300 Weekly at no cost by just going about your normal routine only with a small advert(LOGO) of Monster Energy Drink plastered on your vehicle without affecting the painting or the body? Reply if Interested to get more details about this promo. Kind Regards, Michael Underwood (323) 364-5102 Advert Manager Monster Energy Drink™
Well, shit! I responded – anticipating that it was a scam because it is not easy to qualify for these offers. Generally you must have a late-model vehicle, and put a lot of miles on said vehicle daily. When your daily commute is less than 15 miles and your vehicle is over a decade old, you are disqualified. But I am easily amused by leading the scammers on with their own game, maybe I have too much free time on my hands…
The scammers are getting more polished in their presentations – I suppose the fact that I could earn $300 a week for putting ads on my bicycle was the telltale factor that this offer was not exactly on the up and up. However, the reply-to email was email@example.com which appears to be a valid email address. I replied:
Sounds good, what do I have to do? The response was quick and courteous.
Hello Again,Thank you for your response and interest in the on going promo, We are currently seeking individuals world wide. How would you like to make some money by simply driving your vehicle advertising for Monster Energy Drink.HOW IT WORKS?************Here is the basic premise of the "paid to drive" concept. Monster Energy Drink seeks people, regular citizens, drivers, male and female to go about their normal routine as they usually do only with a small advert of "Monster Energy Drink" logo plastered on their vehicles. The ads are typically vinyl decals also known as "Auto Wraps" that almost seem to be painted on the vehicle and which will cover any portion of your vehicle's exterior surface without affecting the vehicle's original painting after removal. The vehicle could be either a car, bus, truck or even a bike. If you also want us to paint some part of your house, shop, office or workshop, You can simply specify in your reply as we will gladly do this. The pay is different from that of the car wrap.WHAT DOES THE COMPANY GET OUT OF THIS STRATEGY?*******************************************The company gets lots of exposure and awareness from this type of strategy. The auto wraps tend to be colourful, eye-catching and attract lots of attention. Plus it's a form of advertising with a captive audience meaning people who are stuck in traffic can't avoid seeing the wrapped vehicles. This program will last for 1 year and the minimum you can participate is 1 Month. You will be compensated with $300 per week which is basically a "rental" fee for letting our company use a small space on your vehicle's exterior surface. It maybe on your boot, bonnet or any of the doors. No fee is required from you. Monster Energy Drink shall provide experts that will handle the advert placement on your vehicle and will also be responsible for the removal. It is very easy, simple and once more no application fee is required. If interested get back to me with the following information to proceed.Name:Address:City:State:Zip code:Phone #:Email:Type of Vehicle and Colour:Model/year:Present Condition and the Mileage:We shall be contacting you as soon as we receive this information.Kind Regards,Michael Underwood(323) 364-5102Advert ManagerMonster Energy Drink®
Okay… “colour” indicated this “manager” was not American. Not rare these days. But he was certainly not a California native. I emailed Monster Energy the details just to see how long it took them to reply. There is nothing on their website warning people of this scam. Meanwhile, I received an immediate reply from “Michael” after I provided details on my vehicle, a 2000 Ford Ranger in “good condition”.
Hello Again,I am pleased to inform you that your information have been reviewed and your vehicle meets our criteria for this advertisement. Below are some questions you need to answer before we can proceed.*How long do you intend to carry the advert on your Vehicle? 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 1 year?*Do you drive your vehicle everyday?*Have you crashed a vehicle between January 2013 till date?More so, We will mail out the check payment for your first week of Monster Energy Drink Advertisement after receiving a reply from you with answer to the questions above and a confirmation that you are interested. Upon receiving the cashier's check, you are to go ahead and cash it at your local bank and deduct $300 which is the payment for the first week then have the balance sent to the graphic company's headquarters. They will be responsible for the advert placement on your vehicle and also the removal. They will be waiting to receive the funds in other to get the materials needed for the advert placement ready and also send a specialist. The specialist shall contact you as soon as the funds are received so as to schedule a perfect date and time to come for the placement which would last for 1 to 2 hours. It is the graphic company's policy that all funds should be in the name of the individual whose vehicle is to be wrapped so they can instruct the specialist based on the sender's information to avoid any misunderstandings except if a contract had already been reached. A case of Monster Energy Drink will be delivered to the address you provided once every week through out the period you will be carrying the wrap. The drinks are free and you can also share it with your friends if you like.PLEASE CONFIRM YOUR INTEREST (YES/NO):Acknowledge receipt of this email immediately.Kind Regards,Michael Underwood(323) 364-5102Advert ManagerMonster Energy Drink®
I want to carry the advert for 5 years – can I get paid for the entire amount in advance? I drive it daily, sometimes 300 miles a day, and I have never crashed it.
He must have seen a sucker coming! I quickly received the details of my forthcoming payment…
Good Morning Carl Johnson,This is to inform you that you will be receiving the check payment for the Auto Wrap Promo today. It will be delivered to the address you provided via Fedex. Below is the tracking details, Kindly be on the lookout for the delivery.Tracking Details :-------------------Tracking Number: 805010077922Website: www.fedex.comUpon receiving the cashier's check($2240), You are to go ahead and cash it at your local bank immediately or deposit it in your checking account if funds are not readily available. You are to deduct $300 which is the payment for the first week and then send the balance via Greendot Moneypak Pin to the specialist who will be responsible for the advert placement on your vehicle in other to get the materials needed for the advert placement ready. He will also be responsible for the removal. The head office of the graphic company in charge of the car wrapping will confirm the payment, Time and location of where the wrapping will be done in your neighbourhood will be advised. A case of Monster Energy Drink will be delivered to the address you provided once every week through out the period you will be carrying the wrap.Go to www.moneypak.com to find the nearest location around you to purchase the Greendot Moneypak Pins.Once the Greendot Moneypak Pins are purchased, you are get back to me with the following information;Senders Name:Senders Address:Pin numbers & Amounts :The specialist will contact you as soon as he receives the funds. Please acknowledge receipt of this email immediately.Kind Regards,Michael Underwood(323) 364-5102Advert ManagerMonster Energy Drink®
“Neighbourhood”? Another clue! And a Greendot Moneypak? Really? Is that how major corporations conduct business these days? That is a sure sign of a scam. Not even a sign, That is proof positive that a scam is afoot. Finally, Monster responded to my questions.
Thank you for taking the time to contact our company directly with your inquiry.
The email you received is not from Monster Energy. The email is part of a scam and we urge you not to participate or respond. Additional information about the scam maybe found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at: www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/rap-car-wrap-scams.
We encourage you to report the email and file complaints with: The Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/complaint); Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org); Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov); the National Consumers League (www.fraud.org/complaint); and your local law enforcement agency.
We suggest that you preserve any and all communications with the scammers (for example, emails, checks, envelopes, and package tracking numbers). Such information may be useful to law enforcement agencies.
If you have any other questions please feel free to call us directly at 866-322-4466 extension 6466.
Monster Energy Company
It is obvious that they don’t want to take action, they are leaving that up to me. I did begin the complaint process with the FBI and the ICC, even though I do not expect an follow-up. Our government agencies will do absolutely nothing to pursue these scammers, even if they are offered all of the evidence they need to prosecute. I know this from past experience. The local police will yawn and scratch their heads if you call them to file a report. The FBI is too interested in spying on law-abiding citizens. I expect no action whatsoever from my complaints, and I expect that Mr. “Underwood” will make a quick buck on this scheme from people that are too stupid to even be allowed to manage their own money.
The check arrived yesterday, along with a text message from Underwood advising me the check was in the mail, and a follow up email:
Hello Carl,I tracked the package sent to you and found out it has been delivered. I believe you must have deposited the check and funds should be available now. I need you to keep me updated and forward the necessary transaction details so I can forward it to the graphic company immediately. The delay of the awareness has caused us a great setback in your city and we are trying to overcome it. Get back to me asap.Kind Regards,Michael Underwood (323) 364-5102 Advert Manager Monster Energy Drink®
I replied Asap:
Yeah, I got the check – it was for more than $300 for a week, I guess you decided to pay me for more than one week in advance – thank you very much – when are they coming out to decorate my truck, I can’t wait. I already stocked my liquor cabinet with the money – finally I can afford the good stuff!
I am patiently awaiting his reply!