It's your lucky day! You've been awarded a grant from the U.S. government and you didn't have to do anything to get it. You didn't even have to apply.
Well, at least this is what scammers want you to believe.
A 62-year-old Doe Run woman didn't fall for it the first ... second, third or fourth time scammers have called her with the same scam.
Her "grant" has ranged from $8,000 to $9,4000. Each time, she takes notes, writing down the basics such as how much she's got to pay them to get the money. They normally ask her to pay about $300 by Western Union. Once, she was given a phone number to call back and ask for a Mr. Green.
She ends the phone call by telling them that she's already turned them over to police and they need to stop calling her.
"I've told them 'I've reported you. You are a scam.' Then they hang up," she said.
She said the calls show up as an unknown number when they call. She said the callers always have a foreign accent.
She shares her story hoping someone will read it and not fall for it. She fears someone like her mother would fall for it.
The Federal Trade Commission says following a few basic rules can keep consumers from losing money to these “government grant” scams:
• Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Don’t share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
• 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. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded — or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the Internet. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies iswww.grants.gov.
• 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. Take a moment to check the blue pages in your telephone directory to bear out your hunch — or not.
• 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.
• Take control of the calls you receive. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visitdonotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.
• 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. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.