"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 www.annualcreditreport.com. 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 Benefits.gov. If you don't have access to the internet, call USA.gov'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

Comments

Someone asked me to call 518-643-4154 this morning and said that the government will give me a grant of $6700 as well.

they called me form unknown and 315 aera code

I received a call today offering me free fed grant money. She was not convincing but I continued To listen to her which was difficult to understand due to her thick accent. She offered me three form of payment...Bank card number, Checking account number or Walmart wire money transfer service.
How very deceitful! Is there a way that I can report thess scammers?

You can report to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give goes into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

The only reason there are scammers is people actually fall for it .

This is imposible that we are in the USA and that this happen.That people want to do this things to inocent people with needs and nobody do anything to stop this injustice.

I know damn well the government isn't giving out free grants so I knew it was crap. I was curious to know what he was going to say so I listened. I asked him why did I get selected and he gave the same as all of you (I'm a good citizen, with a good background and all that). Then repeated his script from the beginning. phone number called in from : 206-249-7334 and the second time was from a private number. I don't know how one wouldn't know it was a scam, but be careful.

I would like to know how can I get free grant money to fix up my kitchen

I would like to get this money but to be foreal I don't this is true let's see

I just rec'd a call from an unknown number was told I was going to get $9200.00 from Federal Grant money. It was also foreign women that I talked to they tried to get my info then said I could use Western Union but I would have to pay $200.00 that I would get back once the money came through I would get $9400.00. the number they gave me to call was 206-925-3743 Kim Johnson Ext 337. I asked questions because I didn't think it was ligament then she said I could call back once I decided at any time and give them the money file number they had given me.

Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I'm a Motherof 4 kids working 20 hours a week and go to school 4 days a week struggling, to take care of my kids. January 22 2016, i was waiting to pick up my kids at school, and i received a call from the IRS that told me you are qualified for 8,500 Dollars, and to receive the money you have to go to western union to pick them up. After that he will give me the money, I think its not fair to those people who use Government names to scam people who can't afford the bills and have money problems.

Yeah they just called me and said I qualify for 10200.00 but i have to send the federal bank 220.00 first I told him I'm not sending money to get money that's crazy and he told me to go to the store and send it western union I told him to go to the store and pay it for me or take it out the 10200.00 he hung up lol!

I need to fint a free grant to help me now my bills are in the court rasing two grandsons my rent is over do my ssi pay the rent but still behind I have never did this so plz hel

If you get a phone call or see an ad about a free grant, don't reply. There really aren't any free government grants. There are government programs that help people pay for their food, housing, medication and other things, but those programs aren't grants. If you want help with your bills, you can

Benefits.gov can help you find money and benefits you might get for job training, childcare assistance, health care and other needs. GovLoans.gov lists federal loans available for housing, disaster relief, education, veterans and other purposes. You can also go to usa.gov and type words like "heating assistance" or "SNAP" (which used to be called food stamps) into the search bar.

I just received a phone call from a man claiming to be with the federal government. The phone was 800 360 7084. He said that because I was in good standing with my bills and had not filed for bankruptcy in the last 6 months, the government was going to give me 14,500.00 dollars. He had my name, address and telephone number. Actually it was my cell phone number. When I started to ask him questions he became aggressive and nasty. Reminding me that he had my name and address. All he wanted to do was to place this money in my checking or savings, or if i could give him my credit card number. Fat chance. Hope you catch this one. I called the number. It rang once.

Hi my name is Dale from dauphin I need help with money to pay off my sons bill

This FTC article has ideas about coping with debt.

For example, you could talk to a credit counseling organization. Credit counselors give advise about managing your money and debts. They offer free education and workshops. 

Counselors with you about your entire financial situation. They help you make a plan to deal with money problems.

This government website has a list of credit counselors in every state.

Please understand that many of these schemes are using the money to fund terrorist activity! It is very important to NEVER give your account information to companies that are not your normal ones, like utilities. And even then, do it in person. I had a scam I almost fell for who impersonated our phone company!

Jodie, not all these scams fund terrorism; some just want your money for their own benefit. Also, NEVER give your account information to ANY company - even ones you do business with. Companies you already do business with will not call you to request any of your account information (account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc.). If there's a problem, they may notify you to come to the office or bank, etc. to discuss it, but they won't ask you these things out-of-the-blue on the phone.

A Man just call to inform me that my 11 year old daughter apply and won 5k and for me to pay $250.00 for the ATM cards to receive the money. Total scam

Respected Sir, here i am going to tell you my plight.i am 8o%handicapped,you have to get my Email inbox file name P.

sir i having need financial help because i am totally backer, my wife also has left me after accident ,my plight is like leprosy man every one watch but no one came forward to help,

If someone harmed financially with a scam, you can report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. You can also report to the  Attorney General’s office in your home state in the US, or in the state where the scammer lives.

If you are an older person living in the US, you can learn about financial assistance with medicine, food and healthcare at Benefits Check Up.

I just got a Facebook message from someone (not a friend) I knew 50 years ago in high school, telling me I should contact a man on Facebook named Larry W. Batten, who calls himself a Federal Government Grant Agency Clain [sic] Agent. Of course, the MINUTE I heard this, I knew it was a scam, as I'd read about it before. Plus I didn't work in the IG's Office at CIA for nothing! I told my former classmate that I wasn't interested. Good-bye. But I'm going to post something on my page (and on our high school's page) in case this guy tries to pull this on someone more un-suspecting. I live in an over-55 community in AZ and our local paper has a column about scams (great idea, as seniors are often victims, as we're very trusting and often targeted) and I'll send a note to them, too. Plus, I'll report my classmate and the other man to the proper authorities. Shameful what people will do to hurt others for financial gain.

I need a grant or loan for disaster relief I'm disabled and have bad credit

You can read about how to get financial help after a weather emergency in this FTC article.

Also, check the list of federal government resources at the end of this page. There are agencies that help with housing, or help veterans, and state and local agencies.

Wtf im going threw a struggle, i need the money so last week i gave them all my info but not the $240

I received a message from my mom's friend on facebook today, saying that Larry      would send me money if I applied for an application, and it was all done through facebook messeging to Larry, and I wasn't thinking clearing, he said he would give me nearly $150,000 USD if I gave him about two payments of $1000, adding up to $2000 which was a majority of one of my accounts for my college funds.

Being as I really needed the money since my Dad died in February, I thought that I might give it a shot, I sent in my money, but hadn't called Western Union to confirm it yet, and I was getting impatient with them that they wouldn't release the money but BIG MISTAKE. When I had to work later in the day, I had my mom and (speak of the devil) her friend was there, and they both talked to me about what I was hiding from mom because I wanted to tell her that I was going to get lots of money... but I went on break and was able to call Western Union, and tell them the whole situation, they reported the person I was sending it too, which was someone in Chicago Illinois, which wasn't the FIRST address that Larry sent to me to send my money to.

I asked what was with the Oklahoma address, but he said that was an old address and that he went to lunch or something like that, and I was thinking "how would he go to lunch if he has other areas in the US that he's sent these to before?"              That is his facebook profile, if he tries to add you, block him immediately!! Western Union already reported him, so hopefully he will be put to rest As he keeps telling me "no, put your mind at rest"

I just receive a phone call from a man claiming to be with the federal government. He said because I'm a good citizen the government gonna give me 750$ cash and I'm will get money at cvs but I don't know how it's working

Please do not send any money to the man. The federal government does not give money to people because they are good citizens. This is a scam.

The man will tell you to send money, and promise to send money back to you. He is lying. He will take your money and you will get nothing.

Thanks appreciate your help

I'm grateful for this blog. O got the call,and I know to to give any info out that isn't already public, so I listened and followed instruction and asked for "My $9k to be sent to Walmart". Same as some of you, I was asked to call a number back to a transaction officer. I asked the foreign woman her name and she says "Amanda"... :|and the Transaction officer check this out his name is "John Spencer". Smh;-\

The number they asked me to call back was... (696)780-9271.

I think that this is a great website

I just received a phone call claiming I had $9200 available from the government to use to pay bills. They gave me a grant ID #: A071 and Bank Routing Telephone Number to call : 206-946-8176 .

They asked to verify my first and last name, age, address (which they had wrong - but I went along with the wrong address), employment status and if I was married/single. He told me I had to immediately call that number to get my benefits.

I certainly did not call that number.

We had a FB scam over here in the uk. The message said to send £1500 (for fedex clearance) and receive £90,000 in return from an American pension grant. this message came from a good friend who's account had been hacked. The link we were given was a woman in Oklahoma

I would like to know if it is possible to call people and give them back there money from there ecrow account.

i just had the same phone call as A. Anderson above and my number to call was 206-823-3677 and ID LA156. I could pick from 3 ways to get my money (7,800 dollars) prepaid visa, bank card or western union store. I knew it was a scam. I have not called them back . I do want to though say I am detective Majerle from the the FBI and see what they say!!!!!!

Receiving calls from 202 starting numbers. I answered the phone a female told me I was chosen to receive a goverment grant money for 9000.00. She asked me some questions about work and age. Do you have a checking account, a credit card or we can send by money gram. Told her to send by money gram the free goverment money. Then given me a confirmation letters and numbers plus another phone number to call the manager. Don't answer right away call back in 5 mins because I really want you to get your grant money today. I called asked me do you know why yo uh called them. Yes I was selected for grant money. Reexamined me again about the goverment grant money. Then I was told there is a 250.00 state to state fee in order to get the FREE GOVERNMENT MONEY. I told them I have no money have the 250.00. When she heard that from me she ganged uo so fast.

I just got off the phone with guy who said that since I paid my taxes, no criminal record or bankruptcy I will be given $7200 with a confirmation code and a number to call back with a 202 area code. I got a call yesterday same thing but for $9000. one sounded like a crack head and the other was a foreigner where both where alseep almost until I took the info down.

i got a thing on facebook from a agent clarah smith, i dont know who she is and she was asking me to send her the mailing fee of $500 so i can get my 100,000 which was i approved for, she told me to send the money to someone i forgot her name in corpus christi tx, can the government see if this is legit or a scam, if it is a scam i need it to be investigated asap.

If someone you don't know says you won money or got a grant, but they want you to send money first, it's probably a scam. If you send money, you probably won't get it back, and you won't get the money they promised. Read more about government grant scams.

Answered a phone call from treasury department 202 634 2315 said government was wanting to give me free money for processing fee. Told him I did not want free money that I had to pay for. My number is on the national do not call list

I received a call about 15 minutes ago from (315) 204-0515 from a man saying that I have been approved for a $1,000 grant from the U.S. Federal Reserve. He had enough of my information (my first and last name, my phone number, my area code, etc.) to make me believe it was honest for just a few moments. But something just didn't feel right about it. I did not apply for this grant, and he wanted my address. I gave him the street address of my apartment complex, but not the apartment number. I was then told to call a woman named Omeca Johnson at (315) 675-0543 with a money confirmation number, which is a five-digit series of letters and numbers. Something about this doesn't feel right. It really got my hopes up, I don't make much money and have bills to pay. I hope this is just my own paranoia, but something tells me it's not.

I was contacted over the phone today, from a Tennessee number, 901 area code. I was called by a foreign lady. She told me I was contacted because I was picked from my demographics that I would receive a $5,000 grant from the federal government. I asked why me, and she said it was because I have been paying my debts and have not filed bankrupt in the last 5 years. I asked her twice how do I know this is not a scam or fraud.

She said oh no, I have been working here for 7 years and it is free money from the government. You do not have to pay it back or make payments on this grant, it is free money from the government. Like a lot of you she gave me a Government Grant Confirmation ID #. She said I had to call back a different number with a 315 area code and talk to Jimmy Johnson(that is enough to make me laugh, that is the most fake name out there). She said I could receive the money through my bank account or money gram. She said call Jimmy and we will tell you further instructions. I had a doctors appointment and could not call right away, to see what this what about. I called my mom when I got home, and asked her wtf. She said call back and see what they say and research it, but be smart, no one just gives you free money.

After looking on here, I tried to call back the original number that the foreign lady called from, and it went straight to voicemail and said I could not leave a message, that is sketchy enough. I called to see what Jimmy Johnson had to say, an hour and a half later and it kept ringing and then hung up. I am not stupid and did not give out any of my banking information. I recently have uploaded my resume to a couple job finder websites, and I think this is how they got my information. I am not going to answer and calls from them or anyone else regarding this matter. I knew it was too weird to be true. No one gives away free money, and it was from the federal government you wouldn't have to pay!! Do not answer these calls and do not give out any banking information! It is a fraud!

My mother (83 years old) got scammed today. They told her if she sent them $300, she'd receive $50,000 and they would pay all her utilities. One of her Facebook friends posted that she did this and it was legit. I suspect her friends account was hacked.

My girlfriend got a call from a man names Sam today from this number...316-226-9236, and he proceeded to ask her questions such as is your name ... is your last four of ssn ... and are you living at this address... and all the personal information was correct that he had for her. He said that she applied for a grant, she didn't remember doing so, but he asked for her bank info to send her $1,500 for free with no fee and not having to pay it back, my girlfriend being gullible gave him her banking information. 1 hour later there was $4 taking out of her account. Is he trying to steal her identity or money from her? What is this?

This sounds like a scam. Criminals can use someone’s personal information from a variety of sources to commit fraud. Here's an overview of what to know and do about identity theft.

got a call from same man, John Williams, trying to scam me, Said he was from DC and wanted to give me grant money. Needs arresting!!

Received a call from the Washington, DC area yup a 2027845232 number about how I have 9k in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and I had to just give a few details of information...funny he sounded chinese not from Washington at all!!!!

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