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"Free Money" from the Government: Variations on a Scheme

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"There is currently money available NOW right here in your area, to help pay your bills."

"NO lines, NO waiting, NO credit needed. This is YOUR money and will be sent back to the federal government if not used in your area."

Federal officials, consumer advocates, and businesses are hearing from people who have responded to ads, websites, phone calls, text messages, and visits from salespeople who claim the federal government will pay their bills – for everything from utilities, cable, and cell phones to their mortgages, student loans, and insurance premiums. The salespeople are scam artists. There is no federal bank account set up to pay your bills.

The FTC and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, say these cons are pros who may use half-truths to draw people in: The federal government has public assistance programs to help people in need. But this so-called program is a fraud.

If you respond to the scam artist's come-on, they'll charge you a processing fee and ask you for your personal information, which may include your name, Social Security number (SSN), credit card number, debit card number or other personal information. In exchange, they will give you instructions on how to use bank account and routing numbers to pay your bills online, or print checks so you can make your payments in person or by mail.

At first, you may think your bills have been paid. It's not until the payment is rejected, and you're notified that you still owe the money, that the scam is revealed. At that point, you may owe late or penalty fees to the company you thought you were paying as well as possibly owing fees to your bank for returned or rejected payments. The damage doesn't stop there: Not only do you still owe the money, but you're out the "fee" you paid the scam artist, you're at risk for identity theft, and you could be fined or even arrested for passing bad checks or trying to use a bank account that doesn't belong to you.

If you see a pitch for this scam, share it with your local police department, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General's office, and the FTC. If you followed the scammer's instructions, contact your creditors immediately. It's also a good idea to review your credit report, which you can do every twelve months for free. To order a free copy of your report, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted; accounts you didn't open; and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information like your SSN, address(es), and name or initials are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed.

The Facts About Getting Government Assistance

  • The government provides help through benefit programs for job training, nutritional assistance, education, and health care, among other needs.
  • To get government assistance, you must apply. Each program has specific eligibility requirements.
    You shouldn't have to pay a fee to apply for a government assistance program.
  • Not all government assistance programs provide cash payments. Assistance programs that provide payments may have conditions and limitations.

For More Information

For information about federally-funded benefit and assistance programs, visit If you don't have access to the internet, call's National Contact Center at 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Time, to speak to an information specialist.

Tagged with: debt, government, loan, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I got a call today from someone offering a government grant. I was told that I would get a check deposited into my account in the amount of 8500.00 if I just gave them my account number, Well I told the foreign speaking person on the phone that if they mailed it to me that I would deposit it myself. Well she began very angry when I said this to her. So if you get any calls for the 202 area code beware. It is a scam. Dont answer unless you know the number and if the person that is offering the government grant not American then you know it is something strange going on....DON"T GIVE INFORMATION OUT PERIOD

The same 202 number called me they should be in prison!!!!!!! They wanted me to get a greendot card from Walmart for $250.00 and call them back. Really!!!!! Nobody is that stupid!!!!!! They should be in prison!!!!!!

This is what happen to me today and I'm so stupid to send the money to the people I don't know but I did and I got nothing in return. I'm learning something new in my life and this is the first time happen to me. I regret sending the money to them..

Someone Just Called From A 202 Number .Idk Who They Think They Fooling .They Story Sound Real Good Though Lol

I also received a phone call from a 202 number they said it would be for 7000 and would be sent to a western union of my choice. So I'm doin my research and the only reason why I listened to him he never asked me for money or for any of my information. I bet it's still a scam somehow.

Same thing happend to me today but it was a 646 number I am so confused I didn't give him any information but he said he could could me back

This same thing just happened to me and he got angry because I wouldn't stay on the phone with him as I drove to Walmart

Omg, I just got a call from a man saying that im eligible for a 7,000 grant from a 202 number he said my name was on a list I hung up the phone on him.

I have been receiving calls from a 202 number for the past month, asking for my husband. When I ask to take a message, the person always hung up. This time, I just proceeded with the conversation, without confirming that I was not my husband, and I was told that he had been awarded a $9700 grant to be received at a western union. I only continued with the conversation because I was never asked for any personal information, although the gentleman did verify address and phone number. He never told me that I would have to pay any money, nor did he ask for any payment information. However, I decided to do some research anyway before passing this information to my husband. After reading all of these comments, I'm even more skeptical than I already was. On the one hand, I wonder if we should continue to see what happens as long as they don't ask for anything that sends up a red flag. On the other hand, I feel like even continuing down the path without them asking for personal information could steal lead to some sort of identity theft. I think we may just need to play it safe

that's too funny who do they think their fooling...yea right stupid''''...aj525ha.

I just got the same call from a 202 #. She told me i had to pay upfront to western union $250 in order to get my $. They should be locked up for that. Preying on the innocent.

Was it a scam or did you get the money?

I had the same happened to me today. The first person I talked to said it was 10000 personal grant and I was one of the people that the government picked to get a personal grant and said I had to call this other number with this ID number and I'll get my money I called and it got lowered to 7000

Its funny cause thus number been calling my phone a lot and today I finally picked it up the lady told me I got picked for a grant and its for 9,200 and that I would need to purchase a card so they can send the money.. Smh

Got the same call today! Go to this store or that store and buy a certain card (I will tell you what the card is when you get there) and purchase the card....I told “Michael Adams” that I had no money to which I was told to get it and call him back-ummmm NO!

I haven't spoken to anyone , cause it is all done through the internet. But a good friend of mine said see saw my name among the list of others who qualify for a grant,. She also said that she got her money after sending a 200 dollar fee. I wonder if this is true or is she lying to me.

Yesterday A friend of mine gave me a number and said here text it and an agent will talk to you and they'll it's a government grant and will help you with buying a house or paying your bills or anything so I'm a I text the agent they text me back they didn't take my social insurance number that just my normal information and mailing address and he said we checked our database and you are approved for the grant and I said okay well what's the amount so he sent me the things and as long as I pay the delivery fee they said they'd send cash your check so if I was to pay $580 I get a $50,000 cash delivered to my house within 9 hours now my friend that gave me this number had said she had did it and got her money within the 9 hours I'm wondering is anybody else heard of this and I live in Nova Scotia

Someone I know real well and is an upstanding person said she got 100,000 she had to pay 3000 upfront. She sent me a link I contacted the lady she says I'm still on the list for 150,000. My friend said she didn't want me to lose the opportunity and she offered to pay 2000 of the 3000 fee. Im so torn I don't know whether to go out on a limb or not

The federal government is giving refunds for the money back to the people who have feel for the scam pull up ARRA and read it maybe you will get reimbursed good luck

i went through something like that tonight on facebook a guy my sister went to school with sent me a message about a woman named pat clemens who works for the gov and is givin loans to people in need and dont have to pay them back but if i pay so much i get so much such as 750 dollars for 50000 not right i talked to an officer from my town and also sent an email to the gov about it
said i could have money within 48 hrs of payment bs everyone needs to be aware of such scams

I received an friends request from a pat Clemens said she was an anent of the Federal government asked for a lot of personal information.

Well I want to know exactly where do u apply n can some one give me the gov grant phone number I need a free personal grant

There is no such thing as a free personal government grant.

If someone says you'll get you a grant if you pay them a fee,  don't do it.

I just got a call today telling me I will get 9700.000 but I have to pay 250.00 at any Western Union and I would get the 250.00 right back.
Do you know the saying" Nothing iis for free?" Don't even think of trying this Scam. I went on Google and found out many people lost the 250.00 with the Western Union scam. Thanks Google.

Well, it won't just stop at $250. It goes on. They say $250 is for registration, $500 for some tax benefits and $700 to process the transfer of the money. I lost $950 altogether.

These guys are Working in tandem I have to pay 30,000 to get 3 million I’ve got a paid 500 to get 50,000 I’ve got to pay 1500 to get 100,000 when I told them I only had $200 he wants me to send that to him now I said yeah OK the banks aren’t open on Sunday sorry

Thank goodness I researched this. I just got sent a msg on FB from a friend to get a hold of a woman named Bowen Sheila Gay on FB to receive a $50,000 Federal Government Grant for only paying a clearance fee of $1,500. I also was told I had to pay it in 24 hrs and I would be guaranteed the check in 48 hrs!

Phone number used was 315-825-4574.

What email address do I use to alert the government about this?

Please report this to the FTC at

A good friend of mine referred me to Ashton Palmer on Facebook. This man got in touch with me and had me apply for the 'Personal Financial Assistance Grant'. I was excited to be approved but have no money. My friend paid the 'Record Filing Fee' of $200 which will hold my 'approval' until I receive my SSDI check on Wednesday. He wants me to send $2000 to get $100,000 cash in 12 hours. It will be sent by a UPS Grant Officer. --- If this is not for real and I send $2000, I will be without any money to pay my expenses and am a single Mom of two and am disabled. I need to pay my hospital bills, pay for my monthly medications and kids needs. Please tell me what to do!!!

If someone wants you to send money before you get money, it's usually a scam.

You figured it out already: If you send $2,000 and it turns out to be a scam, you won't have money to pay your necessary expenses for yourself and your family. 

Scammers advertise on social media, or send emails or call people and promise "grants" but always want you to send them money first. This FTC article tells more about government grant scams.

If you need extra help with medical expenses and other bills, you could talk with Social Security or state or local agencies.

Got a call that I win 5.8 millions from readers digest but he wants 850.00 for a government stamp of approval....should o trust him...I'm leary

You're smart to stop and think about it. This sounds like a scam.

If you have to pay for something, it really isn't a prize.

If somebody calls you and says "Congratulations! You won a contest!"  it's probably a scam. It's better to keep your money — and your personal information — to yourself. Don't share your financial information with someone who calls and says they need your bank or credit card account number to pay a fee, so you can get a huge prize.

When you do get approved for a grant, what happens? I’ve been waiting a yr or more on a grant. Today I got a call saying that if I give them $3.87 they will put 5222 on my card. It’s just a transaction fee on a prepaid card. Idh any credit so I’m not worried about my identity being stole. I’m more worried about missing out on the real grant. Can you help me?

Even if someone says you will get a "free" government grant, don’t pay any money. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it isn’t really free.

If a real government agency awards you a grant, it will not ask you to pay a processing fee.

Same thing happened to me today .Did your friend send money?

Of course it's a scam they're just trying to get to us people who are in need and hope so whenever anyone ask you for money and they're going to send you money that is just ridiculous and what you can say to them is you know what just take the $2,000 out of the money you're going to send me they will I'm sure leave you alone after that. I also want to say that the really leery because they use people that you know I just had that happen to me they sent me all this information about sending for a government grant from a good friend that I trust and they used her picture her name her whole profile to fool me and it did it first because like I said I trust this person but at the same time I didn't trust what she was telling me to do so I checked it online and found that it was all a scam and then I checked and realize that I had two of the same person's name on my messenger and figured out that it wasn't her sending it to me so be careful about that too if you get something from a friend it's more than likely that they've use that friend to get to you so fall for nothing! If it sounds too good to be true it is go by that rule throughout your life they just pray on people who somehow I don't know if they're following who we are what we are there's nothing private on the internet just so everybody remember that and be careful don't give out any information to anyone have a good life God bless trust God only

Don,t do it you,ll being scam

I'm getting messages from a man talkin bout free money if I send 300 for a card to hve my money delivered

I am dying need of help with finances I'm trying to get a vehicle so I can start work I need a truck because I'm electrician I hope you can help me I'll be waiting for your response

This is a scam sir, don't give any personal information at all. If the federal government were getting in contact with you it wouldn't be by a phone call. It would be by government documents and you could verify through proper chains. I just received a call from +1 (305) 224-8324 "the US government rent department??? There is absolutely no such department sir and do not call me again!" That was the end of the communication. Be careful with your information because there crazy theirs out to abuse it.

I just got it up on the same scam and they want me to pay a clearance fee and they will send me 75,000 dollars to a person in Nigeria throw Western Union and they will send it FedEx the phone number is 504 but they won't talk to you you have to text them

Friend of mine messages me and says that she had a lady who was very nice contact her and tells her that she won $100000. Says she will have to pay the clearance Fed's of $1000. My so called friend tells me that she saw my name on the list and told the lady that we were friends and she could get me t

Exactly what happened to me today!!! Got a supposed call from Washington dc... they told me I had to get a gift card or prepaid card and load $250.00 on there because of my state being a nontaxable state.. ? They are calling me back in a couple days to see if I've put the money on a card before they will send me $7,000 ..ridiculous!!!

They did that to me today and they 285 dollar for it and I will get 7000 dack

I just got a call today saying I have been awarded 9200 in grants for student loans. looking to load onto a visa prepaid card. boneheads!!!

I got a call today Nov 07, 2016, told me i could get 9200 sent through western union,said i was picked from a group and to call a 202 number as well

This happened to me today, I got a called and they told me a won $7000 just because I paid all my bills and everything and that I should go to well Fargo ro a Walmart and bring a bag so they would give me the money and also to bring $250 so they can give it to me

I got a phone call from a foreign speaking guy that told me to get an i tune card for $100 to send to him and I would get $8500 plus an additional $500 to total $9000 grant money from the US government. That would be sent via Western Union. Yeah right, I'm not that stupid. I couldn't hardly understand his language. The phone number was unknown at first then he told me to call him back at 202-792-8443 . This is a scam .

Yeah they called me to saying i had a grant but i had to pay to get it . ok goodbye. Is wut i did.

I've received multiple calls from 202 number. The speaker sounded like a foreign man saying that I was rewarded a $9200 grant. That I had to register to the federal government and that I could receive my money either in my bank account, a prepaid card, or at a local western union. Then they told me I could go to Walgreens and buy a iTunes card for 200 bucks. Total scam!!!!!


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