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Scammers impersonate the National Institutes of Health

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Consumers are reporting another government imposter scam – this time the scammers are pretending to be calling from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to reports, callers are telling people they’ve been selected to receive a $14,000 grant from NIH. To get it, though, callers tell people to pay a fee through an iTunes or Green Dot card, or by giving their bank account number.

If you get a call like this from someone asking you to pay money to get money, stop. Hang up the phone. The federal government will not call you to give you a grant. NIH does give grants to researchers, but they have to apply for them, and those grants are for public purposes, not for personal use.

Also, the federal government will never call you, demanding that you give your personal or financial information – like your bank account or Social Security number. Has a caller ever asked you to wire money, cash a check they send you (and send them money), or use a prepaid card to pay someone? Those are all red flags. Nobody legitimate – and certainly not the government – will ever ask you to pay in any of those ways.

For more tips on avoiding government grant scams, check out NIH’s handy guide. Did you send money to an NIH imposter? Get in touch right away with whoever you used to send the money (your bank, MoneyGram, Western Union, iTunes…) and report the fraud. You might not get your money back, but you certainly won’t if you don’t report it. And then tell the FTC.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Website not correctly allowing me to communicate. Will not accept my amounts or dates.

I would prefer to write the complaint and mail it to your drpartment. Can you send me an address?

If I have gotten such a call, I didn't answer it. I did, however, get about 20 robot calls from some nasty sounding lady claiming the IRS was coming to get me...It was very threatening and rude. I am SO glad I have caller ID..still getting up to 10-15 calls a day is really irritating and disruptive, even when you don't answer them.

I received similar calls. However, the IRS does not call before they send a letter concerning the matter. When I said I did not receive a letter the "nasty," lady said in a load voice I did not respond to the letters. Also, I received an amplified speaker from a man about the IRS. These are all scams from a criminal call center!

One thing you have to realize is that caller ID is absolutely worthless today. Scammed can spoof their I'D with any name they want. I have received calls from ID's that say FBI, Federal Courthouse, IT'S etc.

Couldn't agree more. Caller ID is absolutely worthless. Received caller ID from local Sheriffs office. Money demanded for payment of tickets, missed jury duty. A BIG scam here in CA. Deputy Dale Ingram. They just go county to county taking advantage of who they can. Also using Green Dot/Money Pak cards. The sale of these unprotected cards should be banned.

I don't answer the phone if I don't recognize the number. If it's important, they'll leave a message. They HAVE left messages like that, but I don't get back to them!!

Exactly!!! We do the same. In addition, we block the calls if we don't know who they are. Home and cell phones both.

Need help on I p infringement on my vpn thru a robokill contest I won my access and account been hacked

Thank you I will pass this on to our city Chambers

my friend just got scamed from IRS phoney call or e mail.

You can report a fake IRS call to  800-366-4484. That is the number for the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA), the office that investigates fake IRS callers.

Sad that these criminals prey on the ignorant and poor.

It is so sad that so many people are taken an advantage of by scammers everyday.
Thank you for letting people know what to be aware of.

Very true. I stopped the charge by calling my bank, explained what happened, the bank issued the credit, never heard from the scammer again. Good thing I came to my senses in time. I am generally more alert so it was embarrassing to me to be taken in enough to bite.

Dear tiredofphoneycalls, I have had the exact same experience. Banks are sensitive, thank goodness, to scammers and are quick to help you. I too am very cautious and was surprised and embarrassed to be taken in as well.

I get these calls frequently. Its very upsetting. I ask 2 get me off their call list. I was so upset last time I threatened 2 report them.

I agree with you - they are very upsetting. I have tried everything, being nice and listening to their "script" all the way to yelling at the top of my lungs. Nothing works, in fact they call and harass me even more. My sanity is truly put the test every single day.

So many scam calls daily! They are now spoofing my local area code hoping for me to be dumb enough to answer. Of course, I don't and they don't leave a message for the most part.

Scammers are not just scamming the poor and ignorant as one writer suggested. I'm well educated and got scammed for thousands of dollars.

Exactly what happened to me as well!

Is it just my imagination, or are a lot of these new scams just variations on older scams? It seems like a lot of them either use a prize as bait to get personal info or to get you to pay a fee to claim the prize, or they try to make you panic in order to get money or personal info out of you. I guess as long as the old tricks are still so effective, they'll keep using them over and over.
Red flags: 1. Winning a contest you never entered. 2. You win this amazing thing but have to pay fees/taxes to get it 3. Being told to pay in BitCoins, gift cards, or being told to wire money
When in doubt, look up the number for who the caller is claiming to represent and verify with that business/agency (make certain to look the number up yourself, don't use the number the potential scammer gives you).

Some guy called me saying he was calling from the Federal Grant Office. I told him our government does not have a Federal Grant Office. He told me to shut up, and he hung up on me!

The only way to stop this is to report it to the FTC using their report form, not this blog. I now keep a pad next to my phone and note down the name, phone number, and exactly what they said, the date and time, and report it to the FTC. I have gotten the threatening IRS calls, the Treasury calls, and a new one, offering me a "welcome package" for an alarm for "Americans over 65". Sometimes they also try to trick you into thinking you know them, by using your first name, and asking "are you there", but always BEFORE your phone begins recording their message. DON'T pick up the phone, or press any buttons to "opt out", like their messages often say. That just tells them when is the best time to find you at home. And report it all to the FTC using their form, not this blog. The blog doesn't go into their database. Best of luck fellow seniors!

I agree that if a phone call with a "suspicious" area code or number is legitimate, the called will leave you a message. Otherwise, I don't answer. Once you pick up the phone the scammers know they have an active number (landline or cell) and you get on even more lists. If it doesn't get picked up they might not realize it is still in service.

Been getting a phone call from Starnet and Breast Cancer. They're all scams. Do not answer your calls. 773-313-3042 and 1-815-348-8069 The Breast Cancer one I have been getting for months now and they're scammers for seniors. Internet has lots of things about these sites.

I never do or attempt to do business with anyone who calls me because I don't know if they are legit. I always try to stay safe and not sorry.

I absolutely love getting these kinds of calls. I spend as much time with them as possible so that's less time they have to scam others. Best thing in the world with these folks is give them all kind of really bad information like 30-40 number bank account numbers or 10 digit credit card number.

You can sign up with to stop robot phone calls.

Thank you for alerting me to these scams.

Can you give advice if a company is legit or not before you response to their ADs.

One way is to do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” See what others have to say.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Anyone who calls (you are not familiar with) asking/demanding you to send money (wire, cards, etc.)is an outright scam! It doesn't matter how convincing he or she is, IT IS A SCAM!!!
Now if someone calls pretending to be a family member involved in some dilemma, check the facts for yourself.
Please remove personal information on Social Media such as birth date, phone number, address, etc. Scammers are known to frequent these sites to gather information. The less people know about you personally, the better.

One time this one lady called me acting like the IRS and I told her that I was her cousin. lol. Another time, I told her, thanks for calling, I work for the FBI. :)

Forgot to mention, I did also report that on the IRS reporting blog. :)

I am absolutely FED UP with calls from 779-365-8747 regarding Federal grant money. Today alone they have already called me 8 times and its only 3pm. I have filed a compliant with the IL Atty General and FTC. I have asked them repeatedly to stop calling and they have told me they will call back again or laugh at me. I am being harassed and I am desperate to get it to stop. Nothing is working!!!!!!!

You can ask your phone provider if they charge for a service that blocks a particular phone number. But remember - fraudulent telemarketers change the numbers they call from easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will almost always change.

For more information, please see the FTC publication, Blocking Unwanted Calls.

I called my phone company and they want to charge me $5/mo to block these calls. I may just cancel my landline all together. I really hope something is being done to catch these guys!

People think that phone calls or emails are actually from the IRS because the IRS asks for phone numbers/email addresses on Forms 1040 and 941. They should eliminate that question on tax returns to reduce scams.

I told the one guy wanted me to pay him 59.00 to tech me how to make money at home and was guaranteed 500.00 if I signed up. I said why don't you take it out of the 500.00 your giving me and send the balance to me???

Don't forget the "grandma" scam, which the caller pretends to be your grandson, who has been arrested and thrown in jail in another state, or Mexico, and needs bail money.

I received the NIH Grant Scam call today, August 31. I did not give any financial information but called NIH first, then FTC to report. The scammer had a very heavy accent and was in a room that sounded like a call center. The scammer had my address, email, and cell number. Please beware of this scam!

I recieved the same calls constantly. Offering me 14000. It was so disturbing this caller had my name dob and adress... Truly wish NOBODY FALLS FOR THIS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE SCAM!!! HORRIBLE PEOPLE!!! PETER WATSON WAS HIS NAME....

Received a call today from a Jessica Maxwell from the Dept of Health saying I had been selected to receive an Appreciation grant for paying taxes and bills on time. The Code was GG2040. I was to call her supervisor at 315-203-1868 to finish the transaction. It sounded like a scam so I did not follow the directions.

Please help someone Ive got this call and never gave them my bank account or credit card info but they know my name and license number and say if I don't answer that I will be in major trouble even told me to watch my mouth cause im talking to a government agent someone please tell me who to call

Just received a call with this scam. Told them to give me the info i needed and id run it by my layer!

Thank you so much for this information. I received such a call and told them I needed to check it out so I took all of his information. He insisted I call right away. I ignored that and now I am checking online and good news - they are scammers. Thank you so much again.

Thank you for this information.

Phone # 773-517-8499,and773-938-8530 which are actually from the same scammers...calling daily 2-4 times.One jerk goes by the name "Morgan"another "Tom",trying to sell health insurance.They use different numbers,sure sign of fraud,and this past summer the SAME numbers called daily trying to promote a "free cruise".These lowlifes really should be locked up forever.People please hang up on them,DO not give out ANY info! Blocking the calls does not work,as I said they use different numbers.They constantly leave their obnoxious messages.Eventually they will be caught,like the scammers last year for whatever they were peddling.They got hauled off in handcuffs.Pack of worthless losers,must have no life at all.



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