Unfortunately, it is not very often that I get an opportunity to tell victims of a scam that they can get some of their money back, but today is one of those happy exceptions. In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission first took action against a number of phony websites that promised that they could provide the consumer with tools to be able to easily locate fifteen billion dollars worth of free grant money and to qualify for those grants. The websites looked official with pictures of President Obama and Vice President Biden. The one-time charge was indicated to be between 99 cents and $2.78, however people signing on for the service actually ended up being charged monthly fees of $70 per month for unrelated services. To make things worse, the information provided about obtaining grants was misleading, false or useless.
Under a settlement with some of the scammers and court orders regarding the others by which the scammers approximately 1.7 million dollars is being paid to the FTC to be paid back to 22,764 victimized consumers. The money is being administered by Gillardi & Co. a third-party refund administrator. Checks are being sent now and must be cashed within 60 days of receipt. It is expected that victims can expect to receive about 80% of the money they paid for the worthless service. If you have been victimized by this scam and have not been contacted by the FTC, you should contact them at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go to the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.
In the future, you should always be skeptical of any service that sounds too good to be true. Scammers sometimes say that they are from the Federal Grants Administration, but in truth, there is no such entity. Government grants are not easy to get and if you have to pay money to obtain a free grant, it isn’t free. The government does not charge for lists of grant providers. If you are truly interested in information about federal grants, the only place to go is the federal government’s grant website of www.grants.gov.