It is not surprising that Facebook has been a favorite medium for scammers. Its very popularity and the fact that on Facebook you are communicating with your friends is reason enough for scammers to use Facebook as a platform for scams. There has been a resurgence of a Facebook related scam that starts with a private message that appears to come from one of your friends telling you that he or she just received a large government grant and that it was easy to do. One recent victim of this scam was Dottie Morales of Maryland. She responded to a private Facebook message from someone who had cloned the Facebook page of a friend of Dottie’s and, posing as the friend, sent Dottie a private message urging Dottie to apply for this easy money grant. Dottie did and was first told that she had to pay a $1,500 advanced processing fee which she promptly did. Soon thereafter she was told that she had to pay more because there was an issue with Customs although why Customs would be involved is not clear. Then she was told there was a problem with the Federal Express Truck delivering the check, then she had to pay another fee to the FBI or the grant would be held up. Under various pretenses she was told time after time to pay more money to expedite the grant that never came and Dottie complied. Ultimately she lost more than $30,000.
Facebook accounts and email accounts are relatively easy for a skilled cybercriminal to hack so whenever you receive an email or message urging you to click on a link, provide personal information or, as in this scam, send money, you should always be skeptical and confirm that the communication is legitimate before responding. You should be particularly skeptical of any request to wire money or provide a cash card number because once funds have been transferred in this fashion, they are impossible to retrieve.
The federal government does not charge any fee to apply for a grant. Additionally, it is important to remember that government grants are not given for personal purposes, but only for public projects. People looking for legitimate information about grants, loans and other financial aid information for higher education can go to the federal government’s website www.StudentAid.ed.gov. Information about federal loans for housing, disaster relief, education and veterans benefits can be found at the federal government’s website www.GovLoans.gov. Finally For information about a range of other federal benefits for which you may be eligible, you can go the federal government’s website www.Benefits.gov.
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