Scammers ‘offer’ grants while posing as federal government

Several VERIFY readers asked about offers they received for government grants with no strings attached. These offers are scams.

Several VERIFY readers asked about suspicious grant offers from people claiming to represent the federal government on Facebook.

One person asked about a “Trust Community Foundation” that offered up to $100,000 in grant funds that were available “essentially with no strings attached.”

Another reader was notified by someone on Facebook about an apparent government organization called the American Development Grant Program, which he said received $70,000. When the reader checked with the alleged funding organization, they were told they had to pay up to $1,000 in processing fees before they would be paid.

THE QUESTION

Does the federal government make unsolicited offers of support to people?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

That's wrong.

No, the federal government does not make any unsolicited offers of support to people. Unsolicited offers of funding that appear to come from the federal government are frauds.

WHAT WE FOUND

The federal government will not approach individuals to offer scholarships for which they have never applied, and will not contact individuals directly to invite them to apply for a scholarship. These unsolicited grant offers are scams.

There are a number of ways the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​indicate that government grant scammers could target you. Sometimes they use online ads for their fake scholarships and sometimes they may contact you directly by calling you, texting you, or emailing you. According to AARP, the most common way for government grant scammers to target their victims is through the use of social media.

Through social media, a scammer can impersonate someone you trust by hacking or cloning that person’s account, or they can simply impersonate a government official, either messaging you directly or using a public post for their fake one Promotion advertises. If you pose as someone you trust, he will often tell you a story about how he received and used thousands of dollars from a grant that he appears to have applied for and been awarded.

Government grant scams often have the same goals as most scams: they want to get you to give the scammer money, or get you to give the scammer your personal information.

The scammer may claim that you must pay processing fees before you can apply for your scholarship and will often tell you to make the payment through a money order or similar difficult-to-track payment method. A scammer could simply contact you to try and sell you a list of available grants—although the only official federal grant list is available for free through grants.gov.

If the scammer has told you that you qualify for a scholarship or told you to apply for a scholarship, they may be attempting to collect your credit card number, bank information, or social security number through their “application.” They could withdraw money from your bank accounts without your knowledge or use this information to commit identity theft.

Regardless of the scammer’s end goal, they never intend to send the victim the money they were allegedly awarded.

Fortunately, spotting a government grant scam is easy once you know what to look for. Grants.gov has a page that lists the top red flags that a grant offer is not legitimate.

  • A government official should never contact you directly to inform you of a scholarship that you have not applied for. The government does not notify individuals that they may be eligible for a scholarship and should apply for it, or contact individuals directly to tell them that they are being awarded a scholarship for which they have never applied .

  • You should not have to pay a fee to receive grant money. The federal government will never require grantees to pay money to receive their grant. While some grants require you to include financial information with your application, you only ever need to submit it if you use a government website with a .gov URL.

  • There is no application-free federal scholarship. If someone tells you that you can apply for a scholarship without ever applying, that is a scam. All federal scholarships require you to complete an application before you can receive them, and there are no federal scholarships that are awarded on the basis of a raffle, raffle, or lottery.

  • You shouldn’t be able to apply for a federal grant anywhere but a .gov website. If someone claiming to represent the government asks you to fill out your grant application via social media, text message, email or phone call, it is a scam. State websites are the only places you can apply for federal grants.

  • Any government agency or department that offers a grant should be genuine. Many government grant scams pose as fake government agencies, departments, or programs with names that sound like they might be legitimate. Check online if you can find information about the agency or department offering you the scholarship; If you can’t find anything, that’s a big red flag.

  • A federal subsidy is to be granted for a specific use. Federal grants are typically awarded for specific programs, research, or projects and are never given so that you can use the money as you wish. While there may be programs to help you pay bills or start a business, there are no government grants designed for this purpose.

“If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is,” AARP says of the government grant scam.

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Alley Einstein

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