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money in the shape of a present with a bowFree grants for regular people? The chance at some string-free money might seem like a godsend. But promises of free grants are just another scam to get your money.

That was the case with Cash Grant Institute, the FTC says. In fact, the man behind the scam — Paul Navestad — was ordered to pay more than $20 million. But he didn’t. So today the FTC announced that a federal judge has ordered Navestad to be jailed until he pays up. 

Here’s the backstory: Cash Grant Institute told people they’d already qualified for grants — up to $25,000 — that were readily available from federal, state, and local governments, private foundations, and wealthy individuals. But the grants didn’t exist, the FTC says. Instead, people were sent to sites that charged them for general information about getting grants. Even after paying, very few people qualified for any kind of grant, and those that did found it was a long, difficult process.

If that wasn’t enough, Cash Grant Institute also was a massive robocalling scheme, making more than 8 million robocalls — almost a third of them to numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

In addition to the importance of filing a complaint about illegal robocalls, here’s what you need to know:

  • Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know
  • Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant
  • Know that scammers can fake phone numbers to look like they’re calling from Washington, D.C.

A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant you’ve already been awarded, or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the Internet. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is grants.gov.

If you think you've been a victim of a grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. You also can report it to your state Attorney General. Read Government Grant Scams for more.

Tagged with: free, government, robocall, scam
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I just got a call from scammers the number read 209 I answered it because they called before and I was wondering who would be calling me from a number that came up like that on my caller ID. A young lady offered me 7000 dollars but I needed to go and do $250 registration fee at a Rite Aid or a Walgreens I couldn't receive the money and process everything until I put this money as a security deposit. I asked the young lady with a heavy accent why they couldn't just subtract the $250 from the 7000 that I had been chosen to receive. She said they weren't able to do that and that I needed to call back at 253 - 216 - 8107 extension 014 and ask for her when I was ready to pay the $250. She said her name was Irene Lee and she was working for the Treasury Department in Washington DC please don't fall for this scam. Why would I pay money to receive money that is supposed to be a grant for me . I hope these people get caught and locked up in jail ...they deserve it!!!

Everybody story here is the exact same as mine I was called by a representative from 202 407 9125 who told me I was qualified for a government for 9000 have me an this code TG015 told me when he hang up with me right away to call Jason Lee 202 657 4642 giving me the same lines as everyone else here have need to send 250 to register and I will receive my money back with the 9000

I just reported the same type of phone call but after reading your stories, if they call again, I'm going to play along and get as much info as I can, then report it again. My call was from an Indian man as well. The # was from Cross City, Florida, 352-578-1888.

I tried that and didn't get too much.

I got a phone call from a American Recovery and Reinvestment part of the Federal Government saying in received a grant of $1,000 and needed to call a number and give a proval I.D. and a security number. The person I called said I needed to fill out some paperwork for this and it would take up to fifteen days. Is this a fraud wanting personal information?

Don’t give out your bank account information or social security number to anyone you don’t know. They can use your information to get new accounts in your name or run up debts in your name, and cause many other problems.

Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant.

Scammers can fake phone numbers to look like they’re calling from Washington, D.C. Some use official-sounding names to make it see they're with the government.

If a real government agency gave you a grant, it wouldn't ask you to pay a fee to get the money.

I received a phone call today from a young lady claiming to be from the US Department of coin from an unavailable number. She informed me that the United States had performed a survey 6 months ago and that i fell into the demographic to receive a free $9,000 grant. She did not speak very good English and the connection was breaking up but after a few tries I finally figured out what she said.

(There are a few things wrong here) First of all, the number was unavailable which means it was probably a mobile phone. If for any reason the government does call you, no matter what what section it is, the caller I.D. will say "U.S.GOVT"
Secondly, I was addressed by my middle name, not my first.This thru up yet another big red flag. Long story short, I informed her that her mobile phone with the blocked number had bad reception and asked how she slept at night knowing she is bottom of the barrel trash for trying to take peoples hard earned cash. The government doesn't just give money away....oh no. They are too busy trying to find more ways to take even more from us.

I have a friend that sent me to a guy on fb and she says she got 35000 for 750 delivery fee?? Told me if I put in 200 she would pay 250 and then I asked her if she could just loan me 200 more and I would pay her back double...she couldn't help out ..one excuse after another...its a fraud right???

I just got a call from the "Federal Government" on a 202-area code with the same $9,000 offer as above. No department, no office, no administration. Just the "Federal Government". ***sigh*** If only...

Yes, it is a scam. If there were truly a Federal program for issuing grants, there would be a department or administration with the budget and authority to make the payment.

Also, be careful on the call back numbers. Some callback numbers can route you overseas without your knowledge, and international telephone regulation will not protect you from the astonishing fees they will charge you.

Me too, I just posted but it hasn't gone through yet. We both got called the same day. I agree, I really wish it was for real :-(

I read through everything and pretty much everyone has been told similar things. I was lucky because I have been scammed before and lost 1100 dollars but some of you are not so lucky obviously because you got tricked. A man called me earlier today from California, I'll list the number at the end of this message. He also had a strong Indian accent and he also told me that I had been chosen randomly from a survey I took to receive nine thousand dollars from the government because I'm in school, because I haven't filed bankruptcy in the last 6 months, and because I've never received a government grant before, even though I have in fact received government grants for school. He told me that I had three options on how to receive the money: I could have it deposited directly into my bank account, I could have it deposited onto a debit or credit card, or I could receive it through Western Union. Not wanting to give a stranger my bank account information I told him that I would receive it through Western Union just to play along and see if it was for real even though I knew it wasn't. Then he told me to call the other number like they told all of you, so I did. The second person I spoke with told me that even though I was receiving the money through Western Union that I had to register my name through MoneyGram at Walmart and it would cost $200 and that the $200 would be refunded back to me along with the 9000 dollars that I got for the grant. I said I know this is a scam and I'm not sending anyone any money to be sent money. Every time I said it was a scam he laughed and said this is not a scam, why would I give you my name if this was a scam? The name he gave me was Alfred Smith. I said do you really expect me to believe that your birth name is Alfred Smith, you're from India. What do you think I'm stupid I'm a college student for god sakes. I hung up on him after that. Do not give these people money no matter where they call from. These are both of the phone numbers that were associated with this occurrence today: 209-975-7969 and 209-753-4937.

People are so crazy. Wanting to make a living off other people's hard work. I got a phone call. Dude told me he is calling from Colombia and that he was representing is fed gob. He told I win 9000 and to claim it I had yo call some freaking number and claim it. I googled the info and saw this page. I'm glad I didn't gal for that *****

I've been getting these calls for some time now. The number has come up as Washington DC, and sometimes all 0's! I have been looking for work so I think they may have got my name and address that way.
I asked them if they had my info why don't they just send me the $7000. The government wants to give me this because I have a clean record, well I don't see anything stopping them but a bunch of bull.
I'm thinking if (when) they call again I will be very nice and tell them they should find different employment because most of the people they prey on don't have any money to speak of. All Americans aren't rich or mean. We're people who want peace and happiness for our families and yours. Don't destroy lives of others that need that money for a sick child, to have a warm place to live, reasons like this. Most would help you if you were to need it.
It probably won't make a difference but you never know. If we all tried something like this it's possible that a few just might see that we're not all bad but what they're doing is! Just saying!

T. in Ohio just got THE CALL. I filled out a Gov. census not long ago and the foreign telemarketer knew it. Free government grant money . Had the nerve to involve Wal Mart. $9,000? Sounds too good to be true cause it isn't. The phone number was202-697-9105 and the number she had me call with my claim number was 315-314-3200. Where is homeland security when you need them?

Got a call today from a 347 area code. I was told I was selected at random because I didn't have a criminal record, never filed for bankruptcy and I paid my bills on time. Well...2 outta 3 were correct I knew right away it was a scam! The man who called me also had a thick Indian accent but an American name. I called and reported this scam and gave the number.

Yesterday someone called me with a private number and told me that I have been choose for 10000 grant and ask how I want to spend it and I said education. He told me to give him my informations and I told him to call me later and talk to my dad. I was so happy and ask him to give me his phone number and he said no he cant but will call me back later.I talk to my dad about it and he said he doesn't believe it, because it happened to him and they always ask you for money . I was kinda mad and he said ok will try. so when the guy called back with a lady, we gave him all the informations and he ask for $300 to take the $10000 out and my dad ask to take it out of the money and the lady was kinda mad. My dad told me that he will ask if it right and I came on google to find their number and I see this page. Thank you so much for letting us know. But the Government have to stop them because everybody do not have the chance to see this page. Also those people have accent.

I received a call from this guy who says his name is James Miller. His phone number was (315) 370-1114. He told me that I was one of the very few people that won or would receive $7,260. He told me that in order to get this money I had to send a transaction fee of $260 and told me that I'll be able to get the money back along with the $7,000. He told me that it would take only 5-10 minutes. For me I thought it was true because they told me it was grant money and they had my information too. So I didn't think anything was wrong . So I sent $260. Later on he told me that I needed to speak to someone else and that I had to follow everything that he tells me to do. He told me that this guy works for the federal bank. So I talked to this guy and told me that I'd be able to get my money once I pay another transaction fee. He told me that it was free for sending money from state to state. I didn't know how any of this worked and I fell for it. I was about to start school in the fall and I needed that money for my tuition and lost the money . I thought that if they know my information then it'd be ok. Apparently it wasnt. And I didn't know that in order to receive the money from grants, I want supposed to pay any fee.

You're right, you don’t pay any money to get a legitimate government grant. If someone tells you to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, the it really free.

A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant, or to pay to get a list of organizations that give grants. You can get the names of agencies and foundations that give grants for free on the Internet. The official link for all federal agencies that gives grants is www.grants.gov.

Just received an call from an 'unknown number' it was an east indian man saying a won $6,700 because I do my taxes and don't have a criminal record. I had 3 ways to receive it: checking, credit card or money gram through Wal-mart. Luckily I'm smart enough to know not to give out that information. So I took the money gram route being skeptical of course.
And it was just fishy. I had to drive to wal-mart right then. Call once I was in the parking lot and have cash of $220 on me. Yeah right! They could have jumped me for all I know.

But I said I couldn't go right then. I would need to consult with my husband and look into this 'grant' first. The man got increasingly pushy, loud and upset.

I knew it was fraud and called him out on it and said he could give the 'money' to someone else.

NEVER GIVE PERSONAL INFO OUT UNLESS YOU KNOW THAT YOU KNOW WHO YOU'RE TALKING TO. ALWAYS BE MORE SKEPTICAL THAN NECESSARY!

I got a call from a woman today saying I had won a $9000 grant from the US government. because I pay my bills on time. I asked her what the catch and she said I didn't have to do anything but call a number she was going to give me. I told her I wouldn't give her any numbers of mine and she got upset and repeated angrily that she would give me an ID number and phone number to call after we hung up.she knew my name, city and zip code. She asked my age. I took down the number. It was 202-738-1725. I did not call it. It sounded too fishy and from reading other comments it definitely is a scam.

Got this call today (number blocked on Caller ID 1st Red flag), I was going to get 9,000.00 I could use for anything I wanted (BAHAHAH 2nd Red Flag with blaring horn). I could barely understand the man who called. I asked him where his company was located and he gave me an address in Washington DC and said that he worked for the U.S. Treasury I asked his name and he would not provide it to me (3rd Red Flag) Finally, he asked for my specific age right now. That's when the straw broke. DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY OF YOUR INFORMATION PEOPLE! This is just like getting a fake check in the mail. the only way you know you won the lottery is if your holding the winning ticket! Later

I was called and was told I qualified for $42,800.00. I just needed to pay $2,800 for the information on how to file for the grant. Since I didn't sign their paperwork they've been calling me at least 5 times a day. I'm glad I like my ringtone, lol.

Got the same call today with the same promise! I just stayed on the phone to hear them squirm! Mike Morton with a heavy Indian accent! Told him to mail it to me when he gave me the options on how to receive the money! He kept me on the phone forever repeating my name and address like I might forget who I was! I think he wanted me to say "never minded, please put it in my bank and here is my account info! SCAM

I got a call from blocked number today. A few of you have mentioned the $9,000 and getting a call from the indian guy with a heavyyyy accent. He said I was getting the grant from the government for paying my taxes on time. IT IS A SCAM!! I'm still in high school! I've never filed taxes in my life. Beware

My name is nae. I was wondering if I too is being scammed of money grant. I get a call from a 518-618-4477?

I just got the same call. Only I was to ask for Emma Green. I have information on how they are getting our personal information. Who do I call

I also received the call today and they asked me to call on 253-7773366. I knew it was a fake call so drag them to see what they are trying to do.

`I've gotten three calls from these people in the last week, from numbers: 000000000 and an unlisted number. They gave my name and address and told me I qualified for a government grant from the US Treasury Dept. in the amount of $7,500. At which point I told them I was a police officer and the call was being traced... CLICK! they hung up each time. This is a scam that I hope nobody loses their hard earned money on.

Got the same call from a 202 Number . I let them go through all of there craps and even called the number. Witch is 202-697-9606 and talked to the guy on the phone witch he had a very heavy accent . It was a little convincing they knew a lot of me info witch is very scary. But as soon as they asked me to send them money I knew it was a scam and told them to count me out and I hung up on them. I think the actual us government needs to get to the bottom of this and through these guys in a federal prison for the rest of their lives.

i kept receiving a call from a number of 252-623-2552 (Washington DC) they told me to take down a number (315)407-4403 and to ask for Ryan Miller. They said they did a survey in my State and the area that i live in and i was picked for the fact that i pay all of my bills and i have not gone in bankruptcy within the last 5 to 6 months. i really thought this was for reals (how stupid i was) i only provided them with my age but they confirmed all my information. I'm worried how do they know where i live and how to do have my date of birth?

Your name and address might be included in publically-available databases, like address look-up sites, or public documents that are available in your state, or you might have listed your birthday on social media.

I just received a call on my cell phone that showed up as 000-0000 on my caller ID. The caller had a heavy Indian accent and explained that I was qualified to receive a $9000.00 grant because I filed my income taxes on time and I had no criminal record. He gave me three options for receiving the funds, 1) via my checking account, 2) via my credit or debit card or 3) via Money Gram. I selected Money Gram. He verified my mailing address which I did not give him but instead gave him another zip code in my state and not my street address. Then he gave me a code RW414 and a telephone number 425-654-1401 that I could call and speak to my account manager and his supervisor if I had questions. He asked me to repeat the number back to him, but I was afraid because I've heard of scammers using that in some way to get money. I just kept saying I got it and don't need to repeat it. He got very angry and used an expletive and hung up. Please don't fall for this. My call never got to the point of him asking for my bank account number, but I would never have given it to him any way.

I have been receiving these calls for the past two days. they say if i go to walmart and pay them 250$ they will give me 7000$ in federal government grants. That I was selected for not having any criminal charges within the last 6 months.. WTH? It was a man with a heavy accent, I could barely understand. They asked for my bank account number first when I said no they said i could pick up the money at any money gram. Thats when they said I would also have to pay 250$ to receive the money. I hung up right away. The guy said his name was Jimmy he called from 347-756-7006. He was very inconveniencing at first as the amount of information he had about me was scary. I was so close to falling for this.. glad i decided to google it. These guys should eb put away.

That happened to me but I fell for it what I do now I didn't they told me to go to CVS to pick up the money and give them $250 but I'm not going to do it but if I don't do it what would happen

I received a phone call from an unknown number today(they have been calling for 3 days in a row until I finally answered)and told me I qualified for a free 6,900 dollar grant from the Federal Government Grants department. He gave me the whole spill about I qualified because I filed my taxes on time(I didn't) and I didn't have a criminal record. So anyways he gave me a grant Id# and a phone number 718-717-2793 and said to call Mallory White. So I said let me check this out. Well first he asked how would I like to receive the money into my bank account, a wal-mart ,or a cvs. Well I'm not giving out my account info. So I said wal-mart and he asked how far away it was I said 10 mins and he said ok I have notated this in the notes so hang up with me and call that number and ask for Mallory White. So I said ok. I called the number and she gave me the same explanation about everything but then said you just have to pay a one time state to state fee of 250 and I said here we go. And she asked would you be able to go now I said no. And then she proceeds to say ok well I will save this and have it ready for you when you go to wal-mart, I then say I shouldn't have to pay 250 dollars to receive free money. And of course as you know she says you don't aren't paying for the money it is free you are just paying the state to state fee. I say that is ok. Then her tone changed and she said five words that I couldn't understand cause of her Indian accent and she hung up. Not going to lie it would have been nice to get that money. Haha.

I just recieved a call stating i was selected for a $9000 government grant & that i needed to call the account manager at (516)537-8951 immediately i knew it was a scam but called to let them know i was no fool! The guy(who was the exact same guy that called before) goes into a spill about how i needed to pay a $250 security deposit & thats when it got good! I said "hold up let me stop u right there u can stop with the lies because i know this is a scam, i know u call from fake numbers & i know ur in another country attempting to dcam people out of their hard earned money" He then tried to argue that "this was indeed a legit call"! I told him "Im not giving u any money you are BUSTED because i know ur a scam artist" i then told him to "go get a real job u lowdown scamming bum". Well this angered him & he proceeded to call me EVERY name in the book which i laughed at & told him to "go find another sucker to scam" & politely hung up! This is ridiculous because people like myself worl hard only to attempted to be scammed by low life losers

Just got a call saying I was being given a grant for $7000 from the US govt (some health something or other) from an Indian sounding man named "Richard" it came from an Unknown number I didn't bother listening to his script just told him "this call is bullsh*t the government doesn't give away money." And hung up. You don't get a grant w/o applying for one, that's a red flag!

Just got a call from +1 999 9 telling me that I was chosen to receive a grant from the Federal Government for a good credit record. I am already skeptical about it because I know a lot of scams happening. The girl on the other line gave me a confirmation number and directed me to call this number 2025808232 and that somebody is already expecting my call. Sorry guys but you're not convincing at all! Try harder on your script!!!!

Just got a call from a 6666 number saying I was rewarded $8,000 because I'd pay my taxes on time also that i didn't have a criminal background and that it was a random selection and I got lucky, fast forward they were asking me to pay up a fee of 250 I almost was in the process of doing that till I did the research!!! That was a close call...250 is a lot they were convincing

I got the call just today and said I got $78,000 for free just because I fillled up the survey. I was asked the bank account no. which I didn't provide. Then, I was told to go to Wallmart and send the fee, hehe. Some question that I asked the guy proved to me that he was a fake person. when asked, I was even given the number to contact the financial manager which I didn't call back. BEWARE !!!!

I just received the same kind of phone call from a 509 area code.Everything was identical to the stories you all shared except they asked for $280 as a security deposit before picking up my $9000. #1.Why in the hell would the US Department of Treasury call on the weekend and #2.why can't you take the $280 out of the $9000 and Kim Lee tried to give me attitude when I questioned her. Somebody is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

I have been receiving many calls from these numbers (011-Restricted) and 206 317 1646 (BainBridge,WA) and I was told I was given $9,000.00 free government grant. Of course they do have my name (not complete though). I was given a number to call, according to the person I will call his financial supervisor and confirm whatever he/she will ask me. Oh Well! Just don't believe them , don't waste your time and report them.

Just to complete my last posting, I was given this number to call the financial supervisor: 347 850 7924. Good luck if you want to try it.

I just got a phone call like that I figured it was a scam.

12/5/15 - I just received a call from a man with a heavy Indian accent. He told me I had been randomly chosen to receive $10,200 - "because you pay your bills on time, no criminal record, haven't filed bankruptcy in 6 months". I was then given a number to call to complete the transaction. This is the number 206-801-1982. I called and a woman, with another heavy Indian accent answered, I asked "where are you located?" - my answer was an immediate hang up. How do these people look at themselves in the mirror every day? I'll be contacting my Attorney General here in Washington State.

I just received a phone call: 206-792-9593 I was pretty happy but something seemed fishy when she this Indian accent woman wanted my bank account info. I told her I wanted it wired. She made me write down an ID number. I called the other number and this Indian man answered. Gave him the code and he hung up. I called back and he was very rude. Kept asking me what the f I was talking about. WHAT A SCAM.

Ive been getting these calls unknown number for about a month now finally picked up today he claimed i was picked out, including a bunch of other ppl for paying my bills on time and not having a criminal record.. He asked me how i would like to spend my money cuz they dont want to hand the money to ppl that want to gamble or buy drugs with it i said a new apartment.. He then proceeded to ask me where i would like my money sent i said check cuz i didnt wanna give out any of my personal information he said a checking account number i need i said nope and hung up... Do not fall for these scams no one should ask for ur personal information

I just got a call from Marcella Nunez claiming to qualify my eligibility for a grant. She stated that an 83 years old lady just qualified for a 25,000.00 grant. This grant is from large companies needing a tax right off, companies such as Target, etc. This is the phone number 1 908 355-9969 from Elizabeth, NJ. Of course I qualified, but did not and will not answer the grant writer's call.

i would like to get a grant for school n my car ,bussiness

I, too, got a call from what sounded like a woman with a heavy Indian accent, calling from "Government Grants Department". The caller ID that came up was all 0's. I was told that they had received my application for a grant. Since I had done no such thing, I pressed for more information, such as their name, office location and telephone number, explaining that I was very busy at the time and needed to call back. I got an address of 210 Independence Avenue, a name of Steve Dobbs (really!) but no phone number. I said that I had not applied, and that I needed to talk to a supervisor, and I was going to initiate a 3-way call with the authorities because this sounded like a case of identity fraud. Conversation terminated.

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