"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

They are?? Well...after the $49, in order to get the actual info you need to get the guaranteed return on your investment (that you tie up for only 3 to 4 days...wink wink) you have to pay them $3000.00 to be able to use their no fail system. But that's besides whatever money you want to invest...that's their fee to allow you access... So ya, if I had 15 to 20 thousand just lying in some bank account that I didn't need I might want to take this risk...... NOT!

I would like to pay all bills off and take my niece and nephew to Fla. and buy a car so we can go for 1 or 2 weeks so they can tell those kids when they have than that i took tham

Here's the Million Dollar question..... Why isn't our government doing anything about it??!! why is it so easy for these crooks to scam people, especially people who are in dire need, out of their last dollar and even borrowed money. Just look at the number of people responding... and this is only a fraction of the true number. My God, its fraud no matter how you look at it. If you went to a bank and told the teller, give me my grant of $9800.00, and demanded she give it to you....BAM that's a federal offense. What's the difference??

I'll tell you what the difference is, they would have to do some investigative work involving getting out and following leads, like in the old days. If they would just put in an effort and make some examples with a lot of media coverage it would stop some of them....not all but some.

Stop chasing pot smoking illegal buyers/sellers and the like and concentrate on these fools. This isn't a victimless crime.

Shout out and challenge: To all you web/computer/tech Geeks!

DO SOMETHING to get rid of all the internet scammers via email and social media. Invent an algorithm (lol...Not internet savvy...lol) or program or something to make the web a safer more legit space. Hey, employ some people to run backgrounds and data check everything before it hits the web. Anymore, every other page is a scam of some sort, full of Trojans and hacker cookies and malware. Such a shame that you cannot depend on such a great and information rich tool/system. We need to shut the whole dam thing down and reboot, learn from our mistakes....and by that I mean, our mistake of trusting that a fellow neighbor has morals and a conscious when it comes to using the web for fraud and FakeNews.... seriously...what am i saying, what an example the POTUS & Family is setting.

This Western Union flip for cash. I'm pretty certain is a scam. Just asked for me to send $135 for government stamp of approval. Bc I was honestly scammed just a week ago and sent pic of the transaction. They said could get my money back plus a lot extra, but I am very sceptical upon this. I'm usually rather smart,but I am also desperate for money lately. Could use some advice please!!

If you lost money to a scam, and then someone offers to get your money back, that could be another scam. Often, scammers work together, and share the names of people they will go after.

If someone says he will get you a lot of money, but you must pay him first, that's a sign of a scam.

My mom's friend passed along info to her regarding grants for personal use and urged my mom to contact a woman named Brenda at 202-852-2831 to fill out the paperwork for a grant. My mom inquired but a major red flag was that this person would only text, not call, and her grammar was very bad. They told my mom in order received a grant for $50,000 that she would need to pay $950 to have it delivered. Unfortunately, her friend did send the money and believes she has been blessed with a large sum of money. Sorry folks, this is a scam.

A friend that was my old boss ask me joint him on messenger so I did I ask him how he was doing since I have not hear from him in 5 years first thing he message me was did I hear about federal Govt giveing free grand money away and did not have to pay back since I am a senior that all he message me about even want me to text this lady to sign up for it that when I knew he was No friend of mine but someone trying to ,scam me in giving my,ID SS number bank but I never respond back to the person he wanted me to text to the WEB ADDRESS so don't trust anyone saying there your friend on facebook or messenger

I have had a call from D.C. non stop today. I am approved for a 14,800.00 loan free of charge. I am supposed to go to the dollar store and get a voucher for 300.00 and keep the man on the phone all the time so he knows I am the correct person collecting the money.. once I do yhat I will then have 14,800 on my card within 5 min. He gave me his ID number and he is not American his english is okay but his name is Travis Smith. Some of it adds up but there are big things that do not. I think that if the gov was going to send me money I would just open the mailbox and boom there is a check. Im in the system they wouldnt have to call me.....

I got a call just this week...they wanted me to get a 250.00 Google play card...they told me i was getting back 14,800 ...the 250 was registration fee to receive the grant money...then it turned into I had to 999.00 up front to get money. That money was filing a 800 form with irs..they seemed impatient and moody when I wasn't cooperating. They gave me an address and a call back number.2201 in wood rd Dallas Texas 75390..I spoke with a Ben Morgan..who connected me to a jason Sanchez. After they receive the 800 ga tax form ...I then was suppose to get 15,815..supposedly to refund money spent to receive grant...wth?? Careful guys...I just wanted to add this to thread so it may help someone

I encountered this past Friday a woman called me and said I was qualified for "free" money and she told me to pay a four dollars fee and 4,000 would be deposit into my banking account within 48 hours. I knew it sounded too good to be true.

Guys if you see this number 1-818-333-1889 your iD be Wary. The location is in Burbank California.

I need for my Grant money

I just got a call from a New York # 212-777-6976 said if I give them a credit or Debit card number they would deposit my government grant money of $5700.00

A (718) number had called my brother and after 5 mins of hearing my brother talk I knew it was a scam so I asked to let me talk to the person on the phone my brother said no another min or two went by and my brother got tired of me bugging him so he gave me the phone and I asked him so how much money are you making off of this this is a scam in it and he replied no no no well I kept saying it was a scam and he told me after a while why don't you just hang up so I don't you just hang up

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