"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


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!!!!

carol, need with a large gas bill it is 19000they turned my gas can please get help please.

You can ask the utility company if they give help to people who have large bills. The federal government has a website to help people find programs that give financial help.

I just want to say this is horrible. Americans are working like dogs barely getting by and people can come over to our country and get good jobs and then bomb us. they get all types of federal aid business loans and Americans can get nothing.

I just got a call today (09/26/16) from a foreign sounding man stating the Government was giving away free grant money, that you do not have to pay back, to random people and I was one of the "lucky" ones that was selected. Of course I was suspicious. He said I would get over $9700 to use for "anything good" like paying off bills or student loans. I listened. He already knew my first and last name, phone # and address...scary. He said there were 3 ways I could get the money--give bank acct info, debit card info or by using some place like Western Union. I said Western Union and he gave me an authorization code (MK278) and a phone # to call (206-734-4602) as soon as I hung up to get further instructions. Feeling very uneasy, I began to research and came upon this site. Thanks for all the informative posts. Scam avoided!!!!

A few months ago I received a check from a large well known business indicating that after a few weeks of "careful consideration" I was selected to be a secret shopper for them, and to deposit check immediately!
I'm pretty green when it comes to fraud, money laundering, forgery, etc. I figured since its a check and not them asking for MY MONEY that everything was ok. Instructions after depositing check were to call a number with "MY USER I.D" which was provided for me, hmmm?
Long story short, after I spent the amount that was mine from the check, the check BOUNCED and of course the wanted me to wire money immediately after the money was available because the banks have to clear a check and after 72 hours it bounces. THERE WAS NO AWARD THEY WANTED ME TO WIRE MONEY AND AFTER 72 HOURS ID BE OUT ALL THAT MONEY AND THEY WOULD NEVER BE FOUND. SCAM. YES, they got me. I still have all of the paperwork and I hope to be assisted somehow whether by a State or Government office.

You can help law enforcement by reporting what happened. Go to FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Lol from another company I asked For Name and ID# tThe first scam artist said her name was May Brown....I laughed needed that laugh she said $7800.00 the neext person she told me to call she said her name was Sally Dew....I laughed I said Ok Sally and Your Id # is Bogus names and false id # she told me to buy an itunes card for 260.00 while she was talking I told her I have a Friend that Works for the government and i was a worker for Family services BUT DISABLED NOW SHE KEPT TRYING IT ......i asked her was she crazy I tunes cards are not going give out 8500.00 and itunes goes toward itunes stuff i told her laughing "Gorl stop playing lol she was losing it and dont call my phone no more and hung up. " I told her twice I wish i would pay $$260.00 when that can go on household things i am calling walmart, walgreens, itunes and cvs and letting them know these fake name fake id folks are trying to use their business as part of a scam.....PARTY TIME!!!

Man who took a stand against the scam my pockets was in jam dust was leaking out. So i got a call from 202 681 8549 it was a foriegnor bout government say they pick me for a 9200 grant once in life time deal cant use the money for illegal purposes.

First thing came to mind im moving on up i was with it at after discussing it with my wallet i needed it then they gave me confirmation number st7094 said before i go to western union i need to get federal bank card from walmart for 250 and before i get it call 202 630 6858 a lady named Kimberly Dawson ext 155 said she was going to coach me along on recored line then before i did anything me and my friend had it out about it

she derected me to ftc link and reality slowly started to sink in scam the gov would send an official letter concerning the matter. They also wouldnt ask for money to get money, heck they got money im a veteran these people have nothing to do with the government or better to do than pray on the innocent . feel like the biggest lesson to learn is being able to detect the liar and recognize the bull dont be desperate in hard times scammers use vanurabilty as a weapon so be smart do fall for it

I am getting messages on facebook from my Aunt that she received a large amount of cash and that my name is on a "winners" list. I am given directions to message Scott Mark, make him a friend and then I will get directions to collect my money.

That sounds like a scam. Criminals use social media to connect with people and trick them into sending money. Before you respond, talk to your Aunt outside Facebook and see what's going on.

If someone you don't know says you'll get money or a prize if you send him money first, don't do it. It's usually a scam.

Has anyone got any messages from a woman on Facebook by the name of Laura Hinen? On her page it says she's a agent for Federal Grants.She come on my page.

My fiance today almost got scammed he got a call from some guy agent he won $8500 from the government for paying bills on time. He then gave him a code and a phone number to call. He call n told him to go to Western Union to deposit $250 to receive $8500. He ask him how long he will take to go deposit it for them to send the money in 15 min. The guy in western union told him if the money he was sending it to knew them because their has been people sending it and stole their money. He thought it twice and didn't send it. They kept calling and he hang on them.

Omg I got the same call yesterday too. This Indian lady saying that I won 14 thousand dollars because I pay my bills on time and I don't have any criminal record. But I automatically knew was a scam because not all my bills are paid.

Someone, claiming to be Sam Parker, called me today, from the phone 745 987 4536. Seemed to be the same scheme. He knew my name and phone number, but I refused to give some more personal information, such as age, account number, credit card, and so on.
They said I was picked to receive a free money from the government for the good behavior in the past six months (even though I only live here for 2).
As I wouldn't give any personal info he told me to call another number (315 226 3484), and I could get my money in a MoneyGram under the code SP1995.
I searched the net and I found this thread, so I never called the other number. He called 10 minutes later asking why I hadn't call the number, and I just said I didn't want the money.

I just received a call from 206.472.6025 with a similar offer, saying I was randomly selected for a federal rent grant of $7500 based on my good credit history and no criminal records against the government. I was given a grant id and a phone number of their finance officer to call - 425.245.5109. I have not called them yet, but I do plan to call them and have a conversation to the point where they ask me to give my social or ask me to pay. I am not paying for sure. Just wanted to share the phone numbers so that people are better aware. Have fun!

Is this real are a big lie about getting free money. Are is this a scam. Because I need some money to move in my own place and to get a car. Buy all the things I ca t get for my to children. And give my mother back some money for letting me and my to children stay with her in the time of need.

Thank You For Your Help

yes they tried to get me
but the phone no. is 206 555 1234 and to get the money they give me a code was rb 104 call this no.425 245 5109 and wanted 260.00 so i burn them back i said this is a scam if its not but somebody on the phone thati could understand they hung up the phone

real real work guy

need money to fix up my home or get a new double wide mobile home also get a new car I am a disabiled vetran so I am asking for free money PLEASE

Ok.. A real trustworthy older man. A friends dad, contacted me on facebook today...everything y'all are saying was what he told me.

He told me he would send an invite to me from this 'agents' facebook page. David Williams was the guys name.. Got all my info. And then said. I am eligible to receive it. He said I could get my money in Cash within 48 hours. Ok then he says here's a list..... Showed how much you can get and how much That would cost you. You must go to walmart2Wal-Mart yes that's what he typed.. To sendv1thousand dollars to this name and address:: Name: Rebecca D. Lehn Ctiy: Grand Island State:NE Zipcode:68801

And he said as soon as I send it..let him know the tracking code Ok.. I told him..(yes I was playing along) I don't have the money he said ok if you can get 350 I will help with the rest. Lol Do y'all want to know what hurts the most ????

This so called Sweet old man Del absolutely told me that he got the CASH delivered to him Monday. How Sad that even people we think are sweet and trustworthy are willing to SCAM YOU. PLEASE NO MATTER WHO IT IS THAT TELLS YOU THIS IS REAL....DONT DO IT !! Oh and ..... Merry Christmas from Texas y'all.

Do you think his account was hacked, and used to contact you?

Unbelievable!! I have actually been contacted 3 times. My first grant was for 15,553.23. They even included the cents! But I needed to go to Walgreens and get a apple card, put 400.00 and he was going to stay on the phone with me. Once I give him the details on the card he would release my grant. I got the story because I was a good citizen.. blah blah. At some point I asked him if he thought the American People were that stupid! We know our government doesn't give free money to, they take it from us to give to non-American citizens. I told him I knew it was a scam and to stop calling me. I was called two days later, Chinese lady, but my grant was now reduced to 9,432.00. I said to her what a shame I lost money! Once again I tell her I know it's a scam, she said sorry.. lol and hug up! Believe it or not two days later another call. Indian man very hard to understand, I start out by saying I know it's a scam. He assures me it's not. Asks me to give him the benefit of the doubt. Assures me it's real. He then proceeds to follow his script which is the same as the other two. He then tells me he's going to coach me to answer the questions right so I can get the money for education but I won't have to use it for that. Ok, so he's basically saying he's cheated his boss for me! I tell him I hope karma catches them all soon!! I feel horrible for anyone who gets taken by this. And if you do... Do yourself a favor, pull up the internet and type in whatever information they tell you and ask if it's a scam. 9 put of 10 times it is! Surf the net before you hand anyone your money!! Phone numbers (786)577-6669.

Hello I'm hard of hearing and I need help to cover my bills and I don't have a job but I have SSI... it not enough for me to live

The Benefits Checkup website can help you find help in your state with housing, health care, medicine, utilities and other costs.

Call the FBI and let know. Its a scam ¡¡

People Who Work For Federal Grovenment Gave My Mom Her Money You Can't Have It all All The People Need Money okay Federal Government You Can't Have It All Gave The People There Money Do It Now

i received a phone call from 585-269-6541 from an man sounded like he was from the Philippines, he asked to speak with dianne sabido, with all the noise in the background you could not understand him, he said I was chosen by the Federal Government to receive free money, I did not have to give out my SSN, my banking information etc. then I asked him how I was chosen to receive this money, and he said because I did not get federal assistance, did not owe the government, etc. then asked if I understood and I said yes, then said he would connect me with another individual to speak with me. I hung up, and of course they called back, I did not respond. I went on the internet to look up the questions, Does the Federal Government give free money? Of course I am not stupid, so i went ahead and read all scams, it would be wonderful to receive free money, but if the government chose me out of billions of people, the bank would be broke, and we would have chaos. dianne

I received a call from the same number 3 days in a row telling me i was going to get $9000 from US Gov. this was the result of a demographic survey that was done in Oct. because i have not filed bankruptcy in 5 years and am in good standing with my creditors I was eligible. They wanted me to send them $250. through a walmart credit card for security purposes and they would send me my money through Walmart. The phone number that was used is 360-205-7054 a senior. I am hoping that other seniors realize this is a scam. the number is there for everyone to see. Stay safe all.

A Washington phone number called my cell phone saying you have been selected to receive a $9,000 grant from the Federal Government and gave me a two letter an 3 number id with a phone number to call right away.
I called and was told how would you like to receive it western union.
I was told go to Walmart and get 2 $100 itune cards buy them and save the receipt so it can generate the Fedaral government pay-off. I questioned this action and David Rodriguez 207 was getting upset with my inquiries of buy iTunes cards i do not need. I ask for a supervisor and got one named Adam.
Why do everybody i spoke to sound like a Hindu Indian? I did not buy the iTunes card an they hung up on me.

I believe that I have been scammed. I'm so angry with myself for falling for this. It started with my being contacted by the mother of a good friend, I'm a veteran, by email. I was informed she'd seen my name on a list of winners that I should see for myself. I was there. I got back to her and inquired what had she won.She informed me that it was 50K that I should get in touch. I did and from there it has been a back and for of fees. I asked my friend what had she been required to do and she said pay for insurance and taxes. I am so angry with myself for getting sucked in. It has cost me thousands and I am looking to report them and also see if I can file a Cyber crime report with the hope of retrieving any of the funds that I have remitted. Can you provide me with information on how to proceed? The name of this organization WCAB an affiliate of UNICEF. Thank you.

You can report to FTC.gov/complaint. The information will go into a secure database and be accessible to the FTC and other law enforcement agencies.

You can also report to your state Attorney General’s office, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center and whoever supervises the social network where you saw the information. If you sent money by wire transfer, you can report it to Western Union’s complaint department at 1-800-448-1492 or online or to MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.

You could also look for contact information for UNICEF online and let them know someone is impersonating their organization.

tnx God for evrything i got call today first call unknown no.then he told me you You win $8500 froam the federal govt b/c I pay my bill on time and i have good credit then he give me 5 digt acess code And 202 area code numebr to call them When i call them the lady here name jenney wilson she told me go to the walmart store take 2 $100 itune gift card s,to send to here kkkkkk I was laughing to here ,.,,..finally I told here im very smart guy

Mibe came from 313. I did a reverse phone number search. They used a dispoable phone.

Is there no payment fee

the International Monetary fund program going around to help and support the retired, widow, unemployed, disable, full/part time workers financially with fund and grant all over the world. This is a message sent to me on facebook. What do I do

If someone promises you free money from the government, it's probably a scam.

Scammers say they have money for people in need. They say the money comes from special funds, or grants, or from the federal government. But then they want your personal information, or ask you to pay fees. Don't give them information or money. You wont' get anything back.

To get information about federal benefit and assistance programs, visit Benefits.gov or the National Contact Center at 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636). Information staff answer the line Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Time.

I really need money as I never seemed to claim it yet I need my $900,000 that I worked for but never came in my check please send it to me my address is


I want to make money

Can someone please help me to get this grant please I need it urgently to start up a business my name is Marius

I just got a call about. Grant of $9.600 but was told I have to pay $200.00 and put the money ona Apple I card from WalMart. The catch is they have to be on the line when I get to WalMart so they can put the money on the card. Only a scam artist will tell you that in order to get money you have to pay. I was taught you have pay to play.

please help me to get this grant please I need it urgently to start up a business my name is Marius


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