BBB Warns: Beware of Fake Government Grants


August 9, 2014

Local residents have reported getting calls from scammers claiming they have qualified to receive a “free” government grant for thousands of dollars, just for being a “good citizen” and staying out of jail, or paying their taxes on time. Of course the grants are” too-good-to-be-true.”

The caller asks the victim to wire hundreds of dollars via MoneyGram for processing fees. BBB Warns to NEVER wire fees to someone you do not know!

Here’s how the scam works:

The scammer calls the victim about the grant, and then gives the victim a confirmation number and instructs the victim to call their supervisor to receive the grant.

The “supervisor” instructs the victim to wire money.

The callers go by many different names including “The Federal Grants Department,” “United State Health and Human Services,” and “U.S. Federal Grant and Treasury Department.” Scammers often impersonate legitimate, or legitimate sounding agencies.

The scammers can become aggressive if the victim asks too many questions, and often belittles the victim by asking questions like: “What’s wrong with you? How can you turn down money the government is giving you?” This aggression is used to pressure the victim into action, or get the victim to share account information.

It’s important to remember that government grants aren’t just given away. There is usually an extensive application process requiring essays and proof of financial need or benefit to the community. They are not for personal use.

If you think you are receiving a fake call, hang up!

How to spot a government grant scam:

• The caller asks for your personal account information • The caller asks you to wire money via western union or Green Dot MoneyPak

• The caller speaks with bad grammar or broken English

• Use a name with “Federal” “U.S” “National” in the title. Throwing out names that seem like they’re affiliated with the federal government is an easy way to get victims to believe they are legitimate, don’t be fooled.

For more information on legitimate grants, go to grants.gov. For more consumer tips, visit BBB’s website at bbb.org or call 1-00-388-2222.