The Federal Trade Commission is warning people about an increase in scams involving scammers convincing their victims that they are eligible for large government grants if they merely pay a processing fee. This is a scam. The federal government does not charge fees for applying for grants. Additionally, the scammers perpetrating this scam also often ask for personal information such as your birth date and Social Security number which they use to make you a victim of identity theft. Many times Facebook is used as the medium through which people are contacted regarding this scam. It is not surprising that scammers use Facebook for these purposes. The very popularity of Facebook 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. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, some of the key phrases used by scammers that you should be on the lookout for are “We do all the work. You just pay a processing fee;” and “You can’t get this information anywhere else.” The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an increase in the number of these phony grant scams.
Here is an example of a phony grant scam presently circulating through emails which was provided to me by a Scamicide reader.
“This is to inform you that as a certified registered business owner,
licensed and insured by U.S.Agency for International Development. you have been awarded the sum of five hundred thousand US dollars to boost your business / company
Pursuant to the authority contained in the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, the U.S. Agency for International Development (here in after referred to as “USAID”), here by awards to you (here in after referred to as “email@example.com]”), the sum of five hundred thousand U.S. Dollars payable in U.S. Dollars for U.S.recipients and local currency for Non-U.S. recipients, Kindly provide your desired payment method as soon as possible. Your Refrence Number is ( 4562623 )
USAID’s decentralized network of resident field missions is drawn on to manage U.S. Government (USG) low-income Citiziens and Countries for a range of purposes.
· Disaster relief
· Poverty relief
· Technical cooperation on global issues, including the environment
· Socioeconomic development. e.t.c
Your Urgent Response is needed for disbursement…
Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
Founder: John F. Kennedy
Founded: 3 November 1961
Agency executives : Gloria Steele , Acting Administrator;”
In regard to the US Agency for International Development phony grant scam illustrated by the email shown above, an important thing to know is that while this is a legitimate government agency, it does not provide grants to people or companies that do not apply for the grants. Also, as often occurs in scams that may originate outside the United States in a country where English is not the primary language, there are spelling and grammar errors. This is often an indication of a scam.
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 or gift 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 http://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 http://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 http://www.Benefits.gov.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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