2011-01-31

Sponsoredwhips.com is a scam

I saw an advert for this service on Facebook, so I thought, let me try out "Sponsored Whips." I heard about legitimate services like this one before, so there was no reason to immediately suspect a scam: Some companies pay up to $400 a month to wrap your vehicle in vinyl covered with marketing messages and branding.

I got a little suspicious however when the web site started playing music on load. But considering that the target demographic may actually like it, along with the sexist imagery, I decided to ignore that and filled in their application form.

A day later I got a phone call from a dude who said that he was surprised that as a race car driver, I still didn't have a sponsor. He sweet-talked and flattered, and used many social-engineering tricks to play on greed and ego.

I am not a bad social engineer myself, and picked up on that very fast, so it was not a surprise at all when he said that now that he has pre-qualified me, I'd need to pay $190 to "process the paperwork" and set me up with sponsors.

I said this sounded weird and asked for reference customers or maybe a visit with a local rep, so I could meet them in person. No, he could not disclose customer information for privacy reasons, and I could not meet anyone from the company either. "Not unless you want to fly out to Delaware!" he said.

Hmmmm.

I said I needed to think, and he countered that maybe I was not the right kind of person to be a "brand ambassador." To which I said, I had a car on the lift and needed to go, and he hung up without a goodbye.

A brief search online revealed that this outfit is a scam.

Reading through the reports of people who got ripped off, I noticed that the dude varies the amount he asks for "processing" of the application -- probably based on the person's car and what is the maximum amount he estimates his mark is likely to be able to spend without thinking too much, during the phone call.

Anyways, if you see this ad on Facebook, please mark it as a scam. I did, and I don't see it anymore, but I am not sure it actually got removed entirely, or is just not shown to me. I left a comment when deleting the ad, but doubt that Facebook ad people read everyone's comments, so a concerted effort may get this shut down, or at least removed from a popular platform.

Please pass this on, and let's spoil the scammer's game!