Most of the time, my spam folder sits unattended, filling up with unsolicited ads, bot-generated junk and phishing scams. The messages sit for a few days and are eventually trashed without eyes ever laid upon them. But occasionally I’ll pop over there to clear it out on my own, and when I do, I feel like a child on Christmas morning. So many fraudulent treasures and treats for my security-hardened eyes to feast upon!
Sometimes I will pick through and laugh and then delete. Other times I may forward one or two to my colleague, CSO Senior Writer Steve Ragan, to share a chuckle and then see what else he can dig up on the criminals. Today I received one scam that I just can’t resist bringing straight to you myself.
The subject line read “Red Bull job offer” and it claimed it was offering me the opportunity to make $600 a week simply for allowing Red Bull to place marketing decals all over my car.
Here’s a snippet of the message, unedited by me:
We are currently seeking to employ individual’s world wide. How would you like to make money by simply driving your car advertising for RED BULL.
How it works?
Here’s the basic premise of the "paid to drive" concept: RED BULL seeks people -- regular citizens, professional drivers to go about their normal routine as they usually do, only with a big advert for "RED BULL" plastered on your car. 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 car's exterior surface.
Wow! What a great offer for a "regular citizen" like myself, huh?
Aside from all of the glaringly awful grammar and punctuation mistakes, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Give up my day job as Editor-in-Chief of CSO to simply drive my car around? I’m sold!
But just to be sure, before I tender my resignation and sign on with Red Bull, I decide to do a little poking around. It turns out this scam has been making the rounds in inboxes around the country for a few years. And rather than receive hundreds of dollars for driving around in a tacky, decal-emblazoned car, apparently victims who fall prey are instead treated to an empty bank account.
Here’s the gist: The scammers "offer" their victim hundreds of dollars a week to adorn their car in Red Bull decals and drive around. The scam kicks in when the person bites and they are sent a check – typically around $1500. The victim is instructed to cash it and then send a money order to a "decal wrapping company" which the criminals claim will go to your house and adorn your car with Red Bull decals. Of course, the check is bogus and the person who cashes it gets nothing, and loses out on any money sent to the fake wrapping company.
Red Bull is aware of the scam and even has an email address where you can report these fraudulent emails if you receive one. It appears the scam has fooled many folks around the country because a quick search on Google reveals several people who have reported becoming victims to local news channels.
So, while I wont be giving up my day job anytime soon to become a Red Bull advertiser, I am reminded of a valuable lesson: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Remember to always question offers and other types of requests for information over email - even those that seem legitimate. For more tips on recognizing email scams, check out our How to spot a phishing email guide.