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Another chapter in free grant fiction

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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, 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.

I knew right away it was a scam because our government does not reward upstanding middle class citizens.

I got one of these calls today, too. "Kevin" (who spoke very broken English with a middle eastern/Indian accent) said he was from Federal Grants and that the federal government had chosen me to receive $9,000 because I had good credit, paid my taxes on time, hadn't had a bankruptcy, etc. I asked him how much this was going to cost me and he assured me it was free. He wanted me to give him some information about myself. I told him I would not give him any information that he didn't already have but would verify what he already had. He told me I would need to go to a "Money Graham" location to get my money. This was a HUGE RED FLAG that this wasn't kosher. Then he wanted to transfer me to his supervisor to verify more info. I stopped him and told him that I needed to verify that this was a legit process and asked for his company's phone number and website. He gave me 206-204-5053 which is not a good number. I called it and it rang several times then I got a busy signal. Said my confirmation number is KV990. He also said their website is "mygovernmentgrants.gov". There is a website by that name but from what I could figure out, you have to pay them and then they will give you a list of grants you might be eligible for. BIG SCAM. DO NOT FALL FOR IT. Some way some how they are going to take money from you and you probably won't get anything back. Hang up on them. Don't even listen to their spiel.

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

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I just got that got 7,000 for grant she told me 300.00 plus fee 11.50 then take money then show and they tranfer the money to me

I was super busy today thinking I need cash then I get this call from an Indian women she told me I would get a 9,000$ grant she gave me a confirmation code & a number I called the number & some Indian guy answered by the name of Alex smith & told me to go to western union to pick it up but 1st I needed to send 250$ I was like how is tht right sir plz don't let this b a scam I have a 3 year old to think about he goes to tell me he would never I was THIS close to sending it thank god I didn't thank god I came across these millions of stories of ppl getting scammed by these disgusting ppl how is any of this legal why aren't these ppl in jail it makes no sense to me this really got my hopes up ppl suck

i just got a call from 202-747-6231 stating that i'm one of the 600 people of my city Michigan (yeah, he said city and not state) that has been given a grant of $7000. He asked that i go directly to a Western Union office and then call 253-220-9980 and give the code JR457 to accept the grant. They guy had a foreign (african, possibly) accent. I googled right after the call to find all your comments. Thank you for sharing all your experiences so others may not fall for this scam.

Yeah they called me from a 509-671-9645 and I spoke to Abaigail Martinez.. They got me good because I was convinced that it was true..They said I qualified for a grant of 9,000..They also said it was the US Treasury department.. I told them I didn't have a bank account to put the grant in so she told me I can go to Western Union and once I get there call her on the phone so we can set something up.. I didn't take it that far because I figured it was a scam. This site is very helpful

I've just got a call fdom jeff sreve. Saying that ive just been chosen for a federal grant in Washington dc. For 7000 but i topay 350in order to clear it.and there phone num 914_236_4959.etention 402by some guy called sebastian. I think its a scamm

I just got that call and they said that I needed to pay $250. In cash if not there is going to be a man waiting for me in a red car with the #3493 and he was going to give me instructions and if I didn't have to give him money I was going to give him money and if not then somebody was going to rob my house. These people tried to scare you out of your money

I am just heartbroken and sick to my stomach right now. I fell for this and I had recently applied for a grant so I took it as real. In my mind a thought a 350 deposit that I get right back in half hour with grant funds would be ok. They seemed so real. Then last minute I get a call that the bank is closed. This will go through Monday. Then i got worried and Google and found all this. I filed a complaint......but now......my god that was all the money we had for the next two weeks. How can I pay my bills now?????? I feel ill. How if this has been happening since 2010 has nothing been done!!!!!! What is wrong with people? How can they sleep at night. He knew my daughter was with me and that I had bills due and assured in half hour it would be back. What can I do?????

If you gave someone your bank account number, contact your bank and ask how to keep your money safe. If you sent money by wire transfer, report it to the wire transfer company.

I just received a call a fee minutes ago about me getting 7,000 dollars back for a grant all I had to pay was 250 because my state isn't a tax free state and it cost to send that much money but I'll be receiving it back...and I told him I didn't have 250 and he told me all I have to pay is 180 and he would pay the rest....he gave me his name and phone number IDK it all sounded good but I JUST DONT KNOW

If someone says you won a free grant, but you have to send him money first, don't do it. If you really won something, you would get it. You wouldn't need to pay first.

If you send money to a scammer, you won't get it back.

I just received a call from an unknown number; along with a lady I could barely understand stating she is from the department of health and human services. I asked her to repeat herself every time she spoke. I qualified for a grant from the government for paying my " taxes " on time and don't have a criminal record. She knew my name, address and the last four of my social security (because I intentionally gave it to her wrong.) I asked for her office address and phone number to look the place up. She gave me a social security office address in Seattle, WA with a long pause in between then provided a zip code. That's when I hing up and found this website. What I'd like to know is--who aols these people mu information?

I wasn't scammed. I just wonder how to get these people to stop calling me. I've received about 10 phone calls today, some of them from the same number. I've blocked the numbers, but they keep calling from different numbers. Is there any way to make it stop?

I work third shift, so I woke up to a couple missed calls from a private number. I couldn't call it back, so I figured if it was important, they would call back. Sure enough, they did, and I answered to hear a woman that sounded Indian telling me I was being granted $5000 from the US Government (How she put it, though I had problems understanding her). I called her out on it, saying I didn't think the government would call me from a blocked number, and she got offended and tried to argue with me. She gave me a number with a 315 area code and a confirmation number, which I wrote down, then I hung up and looked it up. Number was for Syracuse, NY, then I found this website. Never give your information out to anyone without knowing exactly who you're giving it to. I work too hard for my money to go to scammers like this.

I just received a call for a grant in the amount of $9000 and gave me three options to receive it. so I chose walmart and then was informed that I need to bring $250 with me to receive the money and I told her and her name is Stella Romero and here is the phone number she gave me with the extension 315-675-4320 ext.8815 they even gave me a grant id number to use. When I told her that if this was real why would I have to pay $250 to get the money she said for a lifetime registration so has anyone come across this person. I hope for some feedback.

You're right - you shouldn't pay money to get money. If you really win a prize, you get the prize. You don't have to pay for it.

If someone tells you a story about winning a prize, but they want you to send them money first, don't do it.  This FTC article about prize scams has more information about spotting scams.

Just got off the phone with someone echoing exactly what you guys are saying. I told them to call back tomorrow, that I was law enforcement. Let's see. Let's see this money dropping on my lap.

JUST HAD MY FIRST CALL WON A GRANT FOR PAYING TAXES ON TIME NO CRIMINAL RECORD AND NEVER FILING BANKRUPCY. THEY GIVE MY HUSBANDS NAME.
I HAVE TO GO TO WALGREENS OR A CVS TO PURCHASE A VERIFY VOUCHER FOR $250, CALL HIM(SEAN MARSH) BACK WHEN I GET TO THE PARKING LOT HE WILL STAY ON PHONE WITH ME TO GET INFO TO SEND MONEY TO WESTERN UNION AT A WAL MART, HIS EXT. 1011, HIS PHONE # 206-451-8263, YEAH WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT BUT MY HUSBAND WORKS FOR A LIVING UNLIKE THESE FOLKS, PLEASE BEWARE

I received two calls today, one I did not answer and one I did. The one I answered was from a man with a very thick accent. He suggested I qualified for grant money due to paying my taxes. I just have to answer 4 specific questions in 4 specific ways about education. I am to lie about my interest in attending school in the near future, and then get connected to at least 1 school. Then the money is mailed to me in 2-3 days. He assured me it is not a scam since I don't have to pay anything. All I have to do is wait for another call from some place in 5-10 minutes. I am annoyed I was on the phone already, so I won't be answering the next call. It would be so great if people really did beat down my door asking if they can give me money, but I live in reality where the only people knocking are people asking for my money.

So I just got called from this guy stating I was selected for not having a criminal record and stuff to get a $7000 government grant. So they asked to verify information which at that point they verified mailing zip code. All my government documents and paper work I have them with my sisters address and only stuff like insurance and things like that I have to a PO 2 hours away from my sisters. Now this guy verifies my PO BOX zip code?? way to fishy.. Then they verified my age. Im like what does my age have to do with the grant. Any ways I told him. Im 27. Then he gave me a grant confirmation number and a phone number to call. I called just to see how it works and this guy telling me to go to wallgreens or cvs or rite aid and but $200 on a itunes card. I asked hey why does it have to be itunes. Western Union does not work like that. So he gives the excuse that its to activate the account. dumb. Then I asked him if its a government thing the webpage should be .gov and they had given me obamanet.com which doesnt exist. OMG this people are so dumb. So I told him ok I dont have the money Ill call back tomorrow if I get it. He was like no tomorrow it will delete and we will give to someone else it has to be today. If you want to go Ill stay with you on the phone.
1: no government employee wants to waste their time on the phone with you.
2: grants are not just given out like that. You have to fill out paper work.
3: Government grants dont require for you to pay anything upfront
4: Government never makes a transaction to any western union or things like that they direct deposit or send you a check.
5: if its your money you should be able to claim it any day
*********** people please dont fall for this ******************

I just got the same phone call from a 213 phone # for the following: Government grant $9,200 Not necessary to pay back Give you bank info/put $ on MC or Western Union Call Treasury Dept. 206-946-8176 Approval AK432 Grant verification Dept. Cindy Bini x213 She stated that once a year the government gives out free grants to $1,500 people that have paid their taxes and bills in a timely manner

I received a private message from a friend on facebook. He tells me that he is going to get a 300,000 grant, for free. He gives me the contact info of the person I need to contact and sure enough the person wants my address, etc. I didn't give out any bank info. This person claims it is legit. I am still skeptical so I contact the FTC. They say it is a scam. The phone number is: (202) 660-4804. So be on the alert.

I got a call from the US from Florida saying that I want 18500 thousand dollars and I don't know if it's true they already knew my name and my address my state and my city is this a scam they told me to pay $240 to grab the money and I can get my money in cash at CVS don't know what to believe

If someone tells you a story about winning a prize, but they want you to send them money first, don't do it. This FTC article about prize scams has more information about spotting scams.

So what happened

scam number for federal grants Indian accent 202-259-6565

So nobody tried it to see if it actually works?

I try to follow through all the time. Most of the time I get hung up on halfway through the call. They called me 8 times the other day. One time I told them its a scam and told them everything they were going to tell me...about the xfer fee and verifying my info, etc. the guy was really mad and didn't understand why I didn't want this free money and there was no fee. He said he wasn't going to ask me to pay anything. I told him ok cool then proceed with the call. He wanted to verify my address but I wouldn't give him my address I just told him I would verify the info he had on me...that's when he hung up on me.

I got a call from a "Neil." from US Gov't grant department. I told him right off I didn't believe him & would give no personal information. He knew my name and phone number, but the phone # is not in my name, but the homeowners. He said he didn't need any information but then he went to survey, asking what I planned to do with the money and I hung up. The phone # on my answering machine is 414-763-2762, Milwaukee, Wi, but he said he was calling from Seattle. He has been calling all morning until I finally answered and said I saw this web site and know it's a scam. I hope as many people as possible followed through and reported him to the FTC. We need to get these people in jail.

I got the same call saying I was picked to get an $8000 grant I just gotta western union them $250 first.... SCAM!! The two numbers they called from are 202-021-4742 & 202-684-6791

I just got a call from a guy with a caller id 646-893-2774 stating that I got a grant from the Goverment and that it's for 8500.00 He did have an accent gave me a MG# CODE and said after our call to call this number 206-629-6017 to speak with a Senior account representative I did not call but the weird part he had my full name with my home address this is crazy good thing I didn't call and it was the 2nd call I got has the first time I told them I was at work and they hang up.

I just got a call a guy stated he was from the US Treasury department and i was picked too receive a non refundable grant for 9,000 dollars to do with as i wish as long as it wasn"t illegal i am like okay is this a scam he said no since i am not a crimanal i was approved for the AARA Grant that was approved in 2009 I was told to call Kevin Jones at 202-495-1371 i gave him a phony card but i had to pay 270.00 dollars to get the money released because it was coming from the reserve bank in NewYork.. He said he was operator 221.I told him i don"t have 270.00 dollars he said call back when i get it.I iknew this was to good to be true

Just got a call from caller ID 20 2 2489845 (Egypt) with the same old story about me being chosen to receive 9000 dollars blah blah blah for being an outstanding citizen blah blah and I'm like "Citizen? I'm not a citizen". The lady then paused for a moment and said "You are not a citizen?" and I said "Yes, I am not a citizen". Then after like 20 seconds of not talking she just hanged up. I knew it was BS from the start, I just wanted to see how far they would go.

I just received a phone from an Indian or Pakistan people telling that I qualified for $14,566 grants for being an outstanding citizen blah blah blah. The guy's name is Ryan Suleman badge ID MD25E5K PHONE #18004541390 WATCH OUT WHO YOU GUVE YOUR INFORMATION TO. but for some reason they had all my information listed on a computer I heard him typing... How can I report this fraud??????? Scammer!!!!!

You can report fraud to law enforcement at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement agencies nationwide use for investigations.

1-508-506-1280, 1-503-457-1197

From 4:28pm - 512pm same 1-(000)000-0000 calling and calling, people watch out.

My sister just got a call from 650-245-5487(California)saying that she has been chosen for a free govnt Grant of $9700 for being a good citizen, paying bills(which she doesn't have)on time, and having no criminal records. They told her she didn't have to provide any personal information...she was instructed to call a cash advisory # and to give the ID code she was provided. They knew her name but had the wrong address though. Cadhy Brown (advisory person) told her that in order to receive the money grant she had to purchase two iTunes cards and deposit $100 each and take them to the Western Union with a number they would give her..and mind you, she would have to purchase SPECIFIC ITUNES CARDS!!! BEWARE!!!OF!!!SCAM!!!

I just gott a call from 234567892 and they said i get a grant for being a outstanding citizen all they need is $200 worth of Apple ITunes cards so they could wire me $9200 and they will send me letters so I won't have too payback good thing I found this website showing that it was all fake the i don't know who too contact too report them they keep calling my phone right now

You can report fraud to law enforcement at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement agencies nationwide use for investigations.

Seriously, just got a call as well from an Indian gentleman offering me $9,000!! OH boy...how exciting?! Clearly a scam and I hate that this happens...wastes so much time to then steal from me! UGH. Thanks for posting...helpful to confirm this is not for real.

They called Me today gave another # to call and I called it and they wanted $250.00 put on a debit card to them the # is:206-693-4370 and the guys name was supposedly Richard Parker.

I was just contacted by Frank Richard stating I have won 150.000 in free grant money all i need to do is sent 700.00 dollor's he has sent the certificate to me this has to be a scam?

received friend request at 3AM from Facebook. Half asleep I responded, and caller starts texting me I am eligible for a $50 000 grant. By this time I am awake, and go to computer and find the real person is already a friend. Scammer is real insistent I text 234 386 7985 for my grant I unfriended and blocked the texter.

I got a phone call today from these idiots..2021561422, and they said to call back with a code to 2065960958.... Yeah dodged a bullet thanks to this site

This same thing happened to me a few days ago, saying I had won a government grant for having a clean record. The call they claimed was from the NIH in Washington DC . A man claimed to be Officer Bryan Clark giving a , Badge number BC 7666. The grant was for $14,566. I was happy because, I had just had a car accident the car was totaled and I needed to purchased another car, so I thought this was really a blessing. But then he asked me to verify who I was , asking me for personal information. He said he needed to verify that I am who I am, so he can deposited the money in my checking account- Not really thinking,--dummy -I gave this person everything even my Social Security card number or drivers license number my checking account number because he said they really needed to verify that I am who I say I am. This person sounded like an officer. After that he asked me to go to a Walgreens or Walmart to buy a ITunes card so I can put ($400) money on your card to pay for my ID-registration and then the money will be deposited ($14,566 )into my checking account. I told him why should I have to pay for something if it's free. He even went as far in telling me that my voice was being recorded. I am too embarrassed to tell people how I got deceived.,I will let my bank know just in case they try to make transactions. I signed up with Life Lock for identity Theft to alert me of account or other transactions open up in y name. These people need to be found and arrested. They are still calling me saying they are not a scam and that they want to give me the grant and what I must do- I told them I don't want it because I believe they are scams. Then they tell that if they were a scam, they have all my personal information and have not used it. They keep calling leaving voice messages. I am tempted to go to authority and let them view the voice messages to locate these criminals.

You can report identity theft and get a recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov. You can report what happened and get pre-filled letters and forms to send businesses and credit reporting companies. 

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