Phone Call Grants Scams:
Free Government Grants
Let's see... you're sitting at home, the
phone rings, and there's a government agency offering you a free grant or scholarship from some organization
you've never heard of, offering a boatload of money! The people making
these offers claim to represent the United States government or other groups
that assist the federal government with grant distributions. They already have
some personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, and ask for
other information like your Social Security and bank account numbers, in order
to "deposit the grant directly into your account". They might ask you to pay a
"processing fee" for the grant. But instead of giving you a grant, they're
criminal scammers and their real plan is to steal your identity, your money, or
Tips for Identifying and Avoiding Government Grant Scams
- The U.S. government does not telephone people or send unsolicited
letters or emails to offer grants. If someone contacts you unexpectedly
and offers you a grant, itís a scam. Donít provide your financial account
numbers, Social Security numbers, or other personal information in response
to such an offer.
- Government grants never require fees of any kind. You might have
to provide financial information to prove that you qualify for a government
grant, but you wonít have to pay to get one. And you certainly would never
provide tat information via email or in response to a phone call.
- Government grants require an application process. They are never
given over the phone and are never guaranteed. Applications for government
grants are reviewed to determine if they meet certain criteria and are
awarded based on merit. If you didnít apply for a government grant and
someone says youíre receiving one, it is a scam.
- Government grants are made for specific purposes, not just because
someone is a good taxpayer. Most government grants are awarded to
states, cities, schools, and nonprofit organizations to help provide
services or fund research projects. Grants to individuals are typically for
very specific, well-publicized purposes, like college expenses or disaster
- Donít be fooled by official or impressive-sounding names. Con men
claiming to provide or help get government grants often invent
impressive-sounding names and titles for themselves and the companies they
represent. Just because the say they are "Dr." or "Chief Section Head" does
not mean they are! They operate under many different names and phone
numbers, take your money, then leave town to start all over again.
- Beware of services offering government grant information for a fee or
requesting your personal information to provide it. Information about
government grants and other benefits is free (though there may be a fee for
some print publications) and you never need to provide personal information
to get it.
Resources for Information about Government Grants and Benefits
These are all government websites, so they can be trusted!
Grants available from government
agencies. Telephone hotline, (800) 518-4726, operates Monday-Friday, 7
a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
GPO Online catalogue of federal domestic
assistance programs. Hard-copy available for a fee through the
Government Printing Office, (202) 512-1800 or toll-free outside of the DC
metro area, (866) 512-1800.
U.S. Department of Education for
student financial aid programs. Information and applications. Telephone
hotline, (800) 433-3243, operates Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern
Standard Time, Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
State and federal government
benefits and programs. Telephone hotline, (800) 333-4636, operates
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Below are links to sample actual phone calls of
this type of scam, along with how to recognize the scam and report them. These
are of a type called "The Advance Fee Fraud (AFF)" phone
calls is also known as ď419Ē after
the section of the Nigerian penal law that deals with this type of fraud. It
takes many forms, we have categorized the scams below as "Orphans and Widows of
wealthy diplomats, generals, presidents, etc."
Let's look at some actual phone calls people received and see how we can spot that
they are scams. In general, notice the awesome amount of misspellings, poor
grammar and run-on sentences. May they should take one of their own
scholarships and get a better education!
- (613) 474 9723, US Government Grants Department