Submitted by Rachel R on Thu, 04/16/2015 - 11:28am
The Facebook grant scam takes advantage of poor individuals
Image Source: Flickr User Dimitris Kalogeropoylos
This latest consumer scam is effective because it uses your relatives to convince you to fall for it. The basic idea is you hear that you're eligible for a government grant worth thousands of dollars only to get conned out of hundreds of dollars you can't afford to lose. In today's consumer fraud alert notice, we'll explain how this Facebook grant scam works and how to protect yourself.
The Facebook grant scam starts with a trusted testimonial
If someone you know tells you something, you're more likely to believe this than you are the word of a stranger. That's what the con artists behind this Facebook-based scam are counting on to steal from you. Victims of the scam say it started when they logged onto Facebook and got a message from a friend or relative. It says they scored big money from a government grant and the message says they saw their name on the list of grant recipients.
Victims read that the grants are for those on Social Security, on disability, or are blind, deaf or some other special needs circumstance. That's what makes this scam so terrible – it preys on those that are already facing tremendous adversity and makes their life harder by stealing from them. If the message from their relative or friend convinces them to fall for the scam, they are given information to text for the “government agent” that's handling the grant process.
How they get your money
The fake government agent tells the victim that they need to send a processing fee in order to have their grant payment released. The payment is a few hundred dollars, and they are told to send it via wire transfer to a certain account. Once the “fee” is sent, the scammer disappears never to be heard from again and, of course, there is no thousands of dollars of grant money sitting and waiting for you. Many victims are so hard up they borrow the $200-$500 fee and are then left in debt they can't afford to pay.
This scam begins with a fraudster that hijacks the Facebook page of someone and then sends out this fake grant message to all their contacts just hoping that someone will take the bait. The Facebook page is usually hijacked when someone falls for a phishing scam. So in this case, one instance of fraud can lead to many others. And if you were the one whose Facebook page was taken over, you might find that friends and relatives will be angry at you if they fell for this grant scam that started from your account.
How to protect yourself from grant scams
As with any fraud, be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. No one is out there just waiting to give you money. Government grants are not given away based on one email or phone conversation and there is certainly no list compiled of people to whom the government wants to give money. Government grants are competitive to obtain and require a lengthy application and aren't just given out to people because they have a handicap or other special circumstance.
There's no such thing as a free lunch, and you should always be very wary of anything that sounds like easy money. Plus, the government doesn't send contacts through Facebook or hand out phone numbers to give away money. Uncle Sam primarily communicates through good old snail mail, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. So be wary of any social media posts, emails or phone calls purporting to be from a government representative. If you've been taken advantage of, contact the North Carolina Department of Justice, FTC or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If you're neck deep in debt and looking for solutions, don't fall for an easy money scam – turn to the guaranteed debt relief offered by Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt to speak with a North Carolina bankruptcy expert about your financial issues. Call +1-919-646-2654 to schedule a free consultation at one of our locations – we're in Greensboro, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Durham, Wilson and Garner. And ask about zero down bankruptcy specials!
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