John Werner came across an interesting ad on Craigslist recently.
It seemed the makers of Monster Energy drink wanted to pay him $400 dollars a week to drive his pickup around, wrapped in their logo.
"It was fantastic," says Werner. "Right around the holidays, we could use the extra money."
But almost immediately there were warning signs.
They'd send him a check, but they needed him to wire a portion of it immediately to a third party, allegedly the graphic artist who would be putting the logo on his vehicle.
"The check was coming from someone else entirely, not Monster, not anybody associated with them. Just a third partner of theirs from out of town. I thought that sounded kind of funny."
So, he called Monster Energy. They had received calls like this before. It was, they assured him, a scam.
Armed with that information, Werner decided to see where it would lead.
Then he got a check, curiously drawn on a Dental supply company's account, sent priority mail from a New Jersey Wal-Mart.
His bank said they would have allowed him to deposit it, but once it bounced he would have been responsible for covering any withdrawals.
The scam artists followed up with a phone call wondering when the money would be sent to the artist. Werner put them off and never heard from them again.
And Werner decided others should know, so he called KOLO 8 News.
There are some clever twists to this scam.
First, this is a legitimate way for company's to get their brand before the public. There are lots of vehicles out there bearing logos, but they are almost always owned by the company. The is the only one in Reno with the Monster Energy logo is owned by the local distributor. The company does not solicit private vehicles for the same treatment.
And there was the fact that they weren't asking for any money from Werner, but if he'd followed through, after the check had proven bogus he would have been on the hook for the money sent to the third party.
"And that should be the catch," says Tim Johnston, the CEO of Reno's Better Business Bureau. "They're going to send you extra money so you can wire a portion of it elsewhere? Once you wire money, it's like cash. Consider it gone."
It is a familiar scam, easily researched on the internet and now it's surfaced here in Reno.
Werner didn't fall for it, but he and Johnston do have advice for anyone seeing this ad.
"If it sounds too good to be true. It really is too good to be true," says Werner. "If it's a national company call them up and check it out. They have people to answer these questions."
Today that same official looking ad is still posted on Craigslist.
These con artists are usually working from another state, even another country so they are hard to catch and prosecute, but there is a government website where you can learn more and file a complaint.