LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Government grant scams are on the rise. One local woman told me she received a Facebook message from a friend asking if she would be interested in a government grant or free money. That’s when the scam began… it wasn’t from her friend, but from a scammer.
One woman I spoke with who wants to remain anonymous says a friend messaged her on Facebook asking if she was interested in a government grant… an easy way to get what she thought was free money.
She then received a second Facebook message from another person saying she was approved. Turns out, both Facebook profiles had been hacked and it was a scammer on the other end trying to steal her money.
Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said, “With different things happening in the economy and scammers being the opportunists that they are, we’ve received reports that consumers are being contacted by scammers claiming to be with some type of organization or they have information on how they can claim free money from the government in the form of grants.”
The scammer states in the message, ‘Keep this as a secret.’ There are also a few misspellings indicating red flags.
“Scammers want you to believe them right away,” explained Babin. “If they can pretend to be somebody, maybe that you’re friends with or maybe familiar with locally in town, then that’s what they try to do, and sometimes, they create fake social media profiles using pictures of even your friends and family pretending to be them sending you a link via Facebook messenger or Instagram messenger or any kind of social media account telling you that they have great information.”
Grant scammers usually follow a script. They congratulate you on your eligibility, then ask for your checking account information so they can deposit your grant directly into your account or cover a one-time processing fee.
“Any type of legitimate grant process typically involves an application. It involves you having to give some information about why you might qualify for the grant and there’s stipulations that are involved with that so never trust something that is going to give you free money right away and never trust anything that is going to cause you to pay money up front for some type of grant either,” added Babin.
Here’s how you can avoid losing money to government grant scams:
- Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. Scammers pressure you to give your bank account information so they can steal money from your account.
- Don’t pay any money for a free government grant. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant you have already been awarded.
- Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Take a moment to check out the agency to determine its legitimacy.
- Phone numbers can deceive. Some con-artists use internet technology to disguise their area code in Caller ID systems.
For more on Eye on Scams, download our Eye on Scams podcast on 10 Talks Acadiana. It’s available anywhere you listen to podcasts: https://tentalksacadiana.podbean.com/e/march-2021-eye-on-scams-with-sylvia-masters/
If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.