A Johnston County woman lost $1,000 in a government grant scam. The victim, a 70 year-old Selma resident, said she received a phone call Saturday from a man pretending to be her nephew. He said he had just learned about a new government grant program where she could receive $250,000 with no strings attached. All she had to do was to call a telephone number and follow the instructions.
The woman made the phone call and was instructed to obtain two $500 gift cards as payment to enroll and to receive $250,000. The victim obtained the gift cards and provided the card numbers to the scammer. Later she realized she had been defrauded.
The “free grant” scam has been around for several years. The caller claims you have qualified for free government money for unpaid bills, education, home repairs or business expenses. They claim to be with a government agency and you’ll never had to repay the money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, calls for ‘free money’ are rip offs. Sometimes they even promise to refund your enrollment fee. In every case, they disappear with your money.
The FTC says these tips can keep you from losing money to “government grant” scammers:
- Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it isn’t really free.
- Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the caller says he’s from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that he is. There is no such government agency.
- Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
- File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.