FTC sues phone scammers who promised free money

Here are two telemarketing scams with a familiar ring:

In one, a caller says you’re eligible for a grant to pay for home repairs, medical costs, or other personal needs. She asks your age, income, and other questions, saying she needs to determine the amount you can receive. After she gets your information, she says you qualify for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in government or corporate grants. You’ll need to pay a few thousand dollars upfront but, she says, you’ll get the fees back when you get your grant.

In the other, the caller says he represents Amazon and is offering you a website that will bring you thousands of dollars in commissions when people use it to link to Amazon.com and make purchases. The caller says you need to pay fees — ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars — but that you’ll earn your money back, and more, in no time.

What do the scams have in common? They’re a pack of lies. The only people who get money are the people who run the scams.

In a complaint announced today, the FTC says a Phoenix-based telemarketing operation bilked consumers out of millions of dollars with these scams. The complaint named three people and five companies as defendants. At the FTC’s request, a federal court froze the defendants’ assets and put a receiver in charge of the companies, ensuring no one else loses money.

The FTC says the defendants used official-sounding names like Federal Government Grant Assistance Center, US Federal Grant Department, Amazon.com Associates Program, and Amazon Affiliate Program for their scheme. And, the FTC says, they often embellished the grant scheme by posing as government officials. According to the FTC, people who paid did not receive any grants or commissions and the defendants ignored their requests for refunds.

The FTC investigated the case in cooperation with the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

We have tips for avoiding grant and internet business scams. And remember, if you suspect a fraud, please file a complaint with the FTC.


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Jobs & Making Money


Just hang up!Don't even say your name....

That doesn't work they just keep calling back and if you block their number(s) they call again with a different number. Do you have another suggestion that might be more effective?????

I have even put my name on the do not call list like you said they keep calling

There was a guy who called me today from Illinois. The claim was that I had a good credit report and that he saw my credit card history. Supposedly this was a limited to me offer to get 0 interest haha. But he didn't know my name, bank, where I lived or anything else. Number is 217-497-8782

Theyre a bunch of scams. For real. They used a lot of numbers too.

I live in NY and I was scammed out of thousands of dollars promising a grant from the FBI thru facebook. They hacked a friends msg app and contacted me. I am still recovering and still catching up on my bills. The # they texted me from was based out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Please beware of these thieves.

Was it called national Endowment for humanities I sent 550 dollars now they want me to send 2000 and they say they won't bring $50,000 cash to my door with FedEx truck

the same happened to me. i am in ohio. the # was based out. of indiana.my friend is in fla.i dont know how i could have been so stupid. they had a picture of the Neh with IRS. it looked so real.

I was taken for about $250. when I bought a small notebook computer from a Chinese retailer who told me after the fact that my merchandise was stopped at Customs and it was going to cost me another $200 to get it through their strict laws. He also said I could not get a refund since the product was stuck in Customs awaiting more $$$$ from me. I know this was all a lie and the man stole my money. Needless to say I never received my notebook or the return of my money. It has been a while since this happened and I did report it at the time, but nothing ever came of it.

I for one appreciate your information.
There is a new scam I ran into the other day.
My friend called her bank to make a payment. Some how the scammers had the banks phone line. They tried to get all her personal information, ( which they should have already) and get her say yes to a free bank card worth 100.00. She was moxie enough release the questions they wanted her to answer , should have been on her profile already.

I get those phone calls often. I tell them not to call me and they keep on calling

Good Day: I was recently scammed by Tech Service Solution LLC, for $270. when this man called he stated that he was from AOL, back in September. Then last week they called again to say they were returning my money, not yet still waiting

I had one of those calls the other day.10/25/16 T caller ID said Washington DC & the number was 202-507-9187. The only reason I answered it was I Had some business with the IRS & It was possible they would call. The caller had a foreign accent. She went on to say that I was found elligablefor governmentFREE grants that I could use any way I like & would never have to pay back.then she started to ask for my personal nfo. So, I asked if she could mail all the info to me. She said sure & hung up.I have gotten several calls like this.Just wanted to let you guys know they are at it again.

The same woman with the accent so thick I could barely understand her (I'm also hard-of-hearing. My response (all 3 or 4 phone calls) that if she worked for the US Government why didn't they put people on the phone who spoke English. She was obviously not insulted because she called several times. We never got to the personal information questions. Most of the time if the phone is out of the area or called ID says NOT AVAILABLE, I either do not answer or I pick up the receiver and hang up.

I got the same phone call and thty gave me a number to call and a conformation number.to verify and a website ..to check hey said I had to get a activation pin and with in 10 to 15 min I would get my grant the person that called me first was a lady with broken English gave me this number to call 2027701209 its a DC number .

I also received that call saying that I was chosen by the government to receive $7000 that I don't have to repay cos of my good tax history! The first lady had an accent also and then she connected me to someone else whom I could barely understand saying I can pick up my "cash" at a money gram location like CVS or Wal Mart, all I have to do is give money gram $200 for some activation card, broad gave me a pin and everything! She thought I was gonna run over thereand do it asap but when I didn't she called me back asking when I was going! Hahaha I told her today which I am not cos those places don't carry that type of cash and I shouldn't have to pay to get it, but be careful, these people are good don't let desperation cloud your judgement like it almost did me wanting to get bills paid etc!

I got the call at my work phone for the same $7K offer. He said he was from the United States Federal Branch. (of WHAT?)Told him to send me the "application" in the mail. Thought it weird I was being "given" a grant, and although it was approved, he wanted to complete my "application". I told him I couldn't talk on my work phone for non-business calls. I feel certain that application will never appear. If one does, I'll try to report back. This was a 206 area code.

I have been receiving these calls from a lot of different numbers for the past 5 days. Even after telling them not to call back.

Got that call today AGAIN. Over and over. I'm so sick of it.

I just had this same kind of call this morning 1/2/2017. they said i'm eligible for a free grant to use it how ever i choose & they already had my address & wanted me to verify my address after they told me my address & they never did ask me if i had a bank account or my birth date or my S.S.I# or ask me if i had a checking account or if i had a credit card & they said i did not have to pay anything for the grant to be sent to my mailing address & plus each person i talked to gave me there name's & they ID.# which i have saved there info on my computer.they transferred me to another person who asked me question like do i have a high school diploma or a G.E.D. & what year i graduated high school. then was transferred to one more person who asked me a couple more questions like do you or would you like to go collage & what subjects or degree would i be interested in doing/getting & if i would like to do on-line classes or campus classes & when i would like to start collage classes on-line. they he said i will be receiving my free grant in the mail with in the next 4 business days.But to be honest I'm not to sure this was a scam because i called the number back & you could tell it was a telemarketing place & not a loud T.V. or anything like that. so if it does end up being a scam they wont get anything from me because i don't have a savings,checking accounts at any banks at all & i don't have any credit cards. I only have a debit card that i got from child support for my child support payments i receive & can't spend any more money then what is on my card which i have it set up to alert me of all transactions made with my card & i only have a per-paid cell phone so they cant run a bill up on it.so will see if i have a check in the mail by Friday & if not then i will be sending a scam report & will be reporting them to the B.B.B as well

I am glad you are taking care of this. They are horrible. I was called several times and thankfully I knew it was a scam, although I did wonder at first. But when I questioned the caller, he hung up on me.

I keep getting calls to "reduce your credit card debt /interest" and "reduce the toxins in the air in your home". I want to call and report them and also the ones that say they come from: New York, Florida, Arizona,Texas and the newest yesterday was "Yukon" to reduce my credit card debt/interest. That's laughable, we stopped using credit cards several years ago and if/when we do, it's when the Discover, BOA or city offer 0% for 12-18 months and pay off before the deadline.

Thank you for doing the job you are charged with doing. Thousands of consumers have entered their phone numbers and registered in the Do Not Call Registry. Is there anyway you can compare this Registry thru the Telecommunications Companies? Thank you again.

The Video on Phone Scammers was great especially since my fiancee almost became a victim of a phony federal grant until I stepped in. The scammer pretty much stuck to a texting format and quoted a "friend " of my fiancee's who received their money(that was posted on Facebook).It was sophisticated and engaged her for an hour but I kept saying when it sounds too good to be true it usually is so hang up. Thanks FTC!

Thank you for alerting me about theses calls.

Now if they can get the people that call representing Microsoft and stating that there are issues with your computer. I am constantly getting that kind of call.

I get those also all the time I'm so sick of it

I've turned in dozens of phone numbers to the FTC and am on the do not call list and do not mail list and have had every possible block put on my phone and still get scammers calling me daily. I just unplug my phone and don't respond to any phone calls legit or not.

I just received a phone call from Citizens Bank saying I was eligible for $10,000.00 to be put into my account as soon as I pay for insurance, at $599.00 which will be given back to me its in case I get ill and cannot pay on my loan. Today at 1Pm I am supposed to send a money gram for that amount . Do you think I am going to do this ? They even claim to be part of the Federal Trade Commission! I am going to say I sent the money to them just to see if or how they respond ? I have the phone number do not send these people any money 919-238-9952 . PLEASE DO NOT SEND THESE FRAUDS MONEY . they claim to have my bank account information because I told them were I have my bank account but the bank cannot give out that information ! Please be careful!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing of value and relief for the consumer will take place until we have federal legislation permitting US citizens to ope out of receiving Any and All solicitation calls to his/her home phone. Violations to be jail time for executives of the Telephone companies for failing to enforce the US federal legislation.

After placing my # on the do not call list I started getting even more calls. Do they sell the #'s? How come the FBI cannot nab these people and deport them?

I totally agree!!!!! Pure and simple, it's guarded harassmentt!!!!!

I am a disabled Firefighter/Paramedic that got injured permanently on a call. I am getting fed up with all the sales calls and we NEED help. If possible, could you refund the extra money other that the trivia questions. Scott

Happens to me all the time. They call at home and at the office. What is the best thing to do in situations like that is to just not give any required information, even your name. Just hang up the phone and save the number so that you won't even answer it if they call again.

Be courteous? are you for real? Thieves, bums, and low lifes are after your money, Give them a piece of your mind. These are felons,

The do not call registry is a joke, and a cruel one at that.

Greetings, I just received a call from 2027549737, it had DC caller ID. She had a strong accent and gave me another phone number to call back her supervisor, proving me with money confirmation number. what would be your advice? they told me that I have been selected for $7,000 grant money. Thanks. T.

Hang up. Get familiar with the scammers tactics, get educated about fraud. And never ever, give them any information or any money. Register for the FTC's newsletter and READ about all the terrible ways scammers work, and don't be a victim. And REPORT them. It does work.

I got a similar call just today, said I was selected to get $8500 to pay bills ect. I went through their spiel to see what they would ask - I didn't give them any information they didn't already have. At the end could only get the money through money gram or direct deposit but first would have to pay a refundable deposit of $250. Of course they said would get the full grant plus my $250 after they registered the information with the IRS! This is when I hung up.

Best way to avoid all scammers. Do Not Answer your phone. If you don't have caller ID, get it! If you don't recognize the number, again, Do Not Answer!! If it's someone is truly trying to get ahold of you they will leave a message. I just can't understand why so many people fall for these scams! If you don't answer, they don't leave a message. No scam. When you answer your phone, a list is made of people's numbers and sold to other scammers.

in September 2016 my computer stopped working and left a message to not use but to call a 1-800 number which I did. They fixed my computer and left me an image on screen to use if needed. need it last week. Guess what. no response. I am out 399.99 and would like to know how to go about getting my money back

If you paid with a credit card, you can contact your credit card company and file a dispute. You can also contact the company you paid and ask for a refund.

I received a call today from supposedly USA, Federal Grants Treasury Dept. The person on the phone had a VERY strong Asian accent. He stated I was selected to receive $9,200 from the Federal government because I had not filed for bankruptcy in the last 6 months or convicted of a crime. I was told I have an option to receive the money either by issuing a credit card, deposit to my checking account. LOL! I played along with it and said checking account. He then says he needs to verify my info, then provides me a wrong zip code and wanted to know whether it was correct. I informed him if he truly was representing the USA Federal Govt he would have the correct info. CLICK!

I have received several calls saying the exact same things, it has gone up from 7,000 to 9,200 in the last two days. Please do not fall for this scam!! Our US federal grant department would not contact us by phone. there is no need to pay for a MTCN as they are indicating in order to receive this money that the "grant dept" would like to give us for being good citizens. They are relentless and will continue to harass until they are forced to stop!

I got the same call several times today! The last one came from a 202-243-0000 number.

I was scammed out of $600.00 from a fake facebook lottery winning scam. They posted pictures and and made it look genuine. Said I needed to send a processing fee.

I wired the money to Canada. Of course them they said it was stopped by international monetary funds. And needed more money for fees of some sort. I reported them to Federal Trade Commission and Western Union and local police and FBI. The numbers come up from California. Beware of these fake lotteries.

Received five calls from 202 444 4444 on November 3, 2016, last @ 4:05 pm. ; answered only last call, whose caller spoke in Indian accent, and who claimed to work for the Federal government in Washington, DC. Number has been reported as scam.
Another from 206 472 601 (?), 10:59 am, Nov. 4, 2016, left a garbled message, but sounded vaguely similar. Another call, 408-600-1336, left no message. Number deemed a scam.

I received a phone call on my cell phone..Did not answer because I did not recognize the number..They called 4 times again. My husband answered and they asked (can you hear me?)My husband just told me of the scam when asking a question like that, they want you to say yes so they can transfer your answer use your Credit Card..My husband said NO< NO< and they hung up..The number was 407 536 8933..Beware!!

I received the call today told them I would take the cash, they gave me a confirmation number and another number to call "right away" I didn't call the number nor did I give the idiots any personal information.. WOW! I'm not STUPID! Government doesn't give you anything FREE!

I don't answer anything that doesn't say who they are, unknown, cellular call etc. I missed an important call yesterday because it didn't have their name. I have a security alarm system that just won't give up. It has been months, I have never answered them but they still keep calling me 2x a day usually.

I have been scammed out of $16,500 in the last 2 weeks. they told me I would receive $150,000 but that IRs intercepted the UPS truck in route to my house and wanted 10 to 15% of the $150,000. I think it is through Facebook. I drained my savings account. I sent FBI and FCC notices about it and FCC said to get with you. They wanted more money after that to cover insurance on UPS to bring me the money. They have sent me 872 texts since this started. I am sick and depressed. A so called friend got me into this. Said he received $200,000 but I think someone was impersonating him. I have a few names and phone numbers written down from all this.

I'm sorry to hear this. Scammers sometimes use social media like Facebook and pretend to be friends-of-friends. You can help law enforcement by sharing the names and phone numbers you have. Call the FTC at 1-877-382-3257 and give the FTC representative the information you have.

If you told the scammers your bank account or credit account numbers, call your bank or credit card company and tell them you want new account numbers. If the scammers are using the same number to send you lots of texts, ask your phone carrier how to block the number, or read this FTC article about blocking calls.

If you need some help with bills, you can look at benefitscheckup.org and eldercare.gov. They can tell you about benefits for people of any age, and for older adults and families.

Is FTC only open during the week. I need to call you and give you names and phone numbers. They don't have my bank account numbers or anything like that.

You can report a scam, or someone who tried to scam you, to the FTC by going online to FTC.gov/complaint. The online report form is always available. The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Do NOT answer the phone unless you are familiar with the caller! Period!

I was just called promising me $9000 from the US Government, but I had to put up $250 first. I told them where to go...

The FCC needs to impose large fines for telemarketers who ignore the do no call list. Without more aggressive enforcement, telemarketers have gradually learned that they can use the Do Not Call list as a source of valid numbers with impunity

, Received a call 7th November 16 indian accent claiming he was from the NZ Government grants dept to let me know I had a grant for $6300.00 from Mr John Key for tax refund.
As I am aware of scammers out there I asked for his name which he gave me (James) & phone number (042809435)I then asked if he was a scammer he said no & he asked if there was a post office close by. I said yes Then I still kept asking him for more information then he hung up. so please be careful do not give any information to anyone

I was scammed out 8,000 dollars, I was called by apperently my electric provider, they asked me to pay via greendot moneypak. i tryed calling greendot but could not find a number for moneypak. after a week of searching i finally found one, its 1800-402-0674.

Received a call today at 8:30 am from Government Grants from district of Columbia, Washington. The phone number that called me was 202-122-5964202 and Kevin Anderson told me to call 360-483-4352 and ask for Jason Smith so I can deposit $250 so I can receive a $6,700 grant. They took my prepaid card information to transfer money.

If they want you to pay money to get money, it's probably a scam. The goverment is not giving out grant money. A scammer can make it look like he's calling from Washington DC and make it look like his telephone number starts with a 202 area code, like Washington DC. That's all a lie. He really wants you to send money.

If you tell him your bank card number, he can take your money. If you told him your bank card number or credit card number, call your bank or credit card company and tell them what happened. Ask them how to protect your account so no one can steal your money.

I received call from a company impact solutions for mutual!l solutions collecting for West gate group for an old payday loan which I added in my bankruptcy number 484-709-8318 they said their address is Atlanta GA but number shows reading package scam or real? Help

On November 6th I got a friend request from a lady I know didn't think anything about it at the time and accepted it within a minute she was telling me how she got a 100.000.grant and that I could get one also she gave me a number to call and I said i would later then she said it was limited time so I called with no answer and she told me its best to text so I did within seconds I received a text back saying she needed info and she would let me know if I qualified ok so it took like 5 mminute's and she said all I had to do was pay 2000.00 and I told her to forget it i didn't have that kind of money so she said borrow it from your friend and I said joust forget it and it was only a second or 2 the lady that's supposed to be my friend on FB text me and ask what they had told me and I told her they wanted money that I didn't have so she asked how much do you have and I said I could only come up with 500.00 so she said I will pay the rest for you if you'll pay me back and I said no that's ok she said I don't want you to miss out so ill send 1500.00 and you can send the rest then the other one text me and said your friend sent her part just waiting on you so I sent it and within 5 minute's the lady that I accepted the friend request from was on FB letting everyone know she had been hacked again so it wasn't even my friend and I realized I had been scammed ran back in Walmart to see if I could get my money back but the other one had already picked it up that quick . She was using an attorneys name and said she worked for the government also she is pretending to be Terresa Moreno and another one is yvonne blackstock so everyone beware of these people

You can help law enforcement by reporting this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

The information you give about the person who texted you and what they said will go into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations. You can also report this to the wire transfer company you used. They make lists of scammers and stop them from using the services.

Call WU Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492 or MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.

I was scammed out of 800$ by global client solutions and the karger consulting group and I have filed several complaints but nothing was ever done I guess it depends on where you live.

Got an email from martin gary "I need your assistance to retrieve the sum of 25m please reply. Thank you. +27 710 519 003." Got this on my phone, but it missed my computer. No, I did not call, but wild guess is it is a scam!!

I received a phone call from a 202 area code saying I was eligible for a grant from the Federal gov't.. which I didn't have to pay back. I was given an i.d. Code and another phone # to call. This # had a 253 areacode. When I called this # I was informed I would have to pay $350 for this $7,000 grant that would be wired to cvs. Both callers had strong foreign accents. I tried to call back the 202# but got a recording that said the # was not valid. I callled back the 253 # and informed the foreigner that I would be reporting this to the atty. general in WA. State where this # iriginsted. I did that and received an email response with this web address. Hopefully these people will be stopped. What a horrible scam!!!

hello i am 21 years old i have got scammed lost 3000 dollares spend my money itunes gift card give them the number on the back of the card

I added my phone number to the Do Not Call list through this website a couple of months ago, and now I get calls multiple times each day. I never got phone calls before, but I wanted to be safe. I'm sorry I added my number to this list. I don't know what happens to the list when you put your information on this site, but somehow it's putting our numbers INTO the hands of scam artists, not keeping it away from them. Please tell me how to stop this.

I have received 3 phone calls today and 2 yesterday from this scammers. They keep calling identifying themselves as the U.S. government grants program dept, Dept of Human Services and tried to solicit and verify more info from me which I refused and ask that they send their request by mail. The caller "Matthew" keep asking why I didnt want $9000.

I found out a little known but VERY IMPORTANT variation on this scheme. The scammers are legitimating the grant money by using people the targets know via social media. By "KNOW," it could be a recent or casual contact or someone not seen or heard of for many years. This "friend" has presumably received grant money after having sent in the required fees--and there is no way to verify that they did get it. They are then used to convince the new target that the grant is legitimate, since the target may be more likely to trust the scheme if a friend or direct contact is involved. The friend may be promised additional money if they can convince the target that it is a legitimate transaction. BEWARE!! I did not go through with it, but this has happened to me several times.

I was scammed today. The scammers hacked a friend of mines FB account and I actually thought I was talking to her. She told me about this money she received by paying a fee. Knowing she is trying to open a beauty shop I further thought this must be true. I did exactly what this so called friend did, went to Walmart sent the 1000 via Moneygram. I had a bad feeling about this whole thing so decided to call my friend as I was leaving and she said no that was not me and she found out her account was hacked. I quickly went right back to Walmart after calling Moneygram. I was blessed to be able to get my money back. However, these people have my social and DL number. They had my account info but as I was getting the 1000 out, something told me to close that account because of the uneasy feelings. I also put a freeze on my credit report, made a police report and reported to FTC and Social Security Board. Person who was texting me after the fake FB friend was a fake name of Attorney Randy Williams. The moneygram was going to Ray Braun in Rockport Texas. Please beware yall people are doing whatever they can to get innocent people's money.

2027983307 promise free money grant

I just got a call from 18005983036 was told I was selected for a free 9000 grant I never had to pay back just to call another number 2062021801this guy shawn answers the phone and says hes the manager of government grants something all I had to do was go get a 250 iTunes gift card. I ask what government he worked for he wouldn't answer I coughed scam he hung up lol

Same thing. Got grant money for no arrests or bankruptcy in 6 months. He said he is from the US government. Ya right!!. When I told him it easy a scam he used very vulgar language and I hung up. I blocked the number and today a call again from a diff number but caller ID says Washington DC. . A few days ago the caller was from Windows and offered to fix my computer that had been hacked.
This is getting out of control.

Today I got a call from 202-905-2577 they are claiming random selection by us government to receive 9000.00 grants. They said to give me the money I need to give them my bank number or my credit card or choose western union. OF COARSE I said western Union .. but i am NOT falling for it how do I report them before someone gives out their informatioN?

Just an FYI...it is 12/23/16 and the scam that calls from a 202 area code (in my case the number was 202-444-4444) and claims to be the United States Government contacting you to inform you of a $9000 grant that you have been randomly selected to receive, is still going strong. I have received dozens of calls from them over the past two days before I finally got fed up and answered the call. It was immediately obvious to me that it was a scam. When I asked them what BRANCH of the government was giving out these grants they hung up on me. Those of you who REPEATEDLY say "Just don't answer the phone" must not have dealt with people like this before! When you don't answer they just NEVER STOP CALLING!!!! It is constant and annoying! M' just sayin'!

Took 55,000 from me

It would be educational for the rest of us for you to share the details. No one out here knows who you really are.

I got a call from (347)669-7242 saying they was with the government and I was eligible to receive a grant and wanted my bank account number or wanted to know if I wanted to receive it from WalMart or threw Money Gram when I told him this was a scam and I was going to report him he hung up.

Just got off the phone from a number (206) 629-6080 saying the same thinge to me.

I just three calls from that same number! Stated he was Ben, a federal agent with US Treasury Dept. Rude, cursed me out when I asked for verification! Plus accent so thick I could barely understand him!

I received a call saying I was eligible to receive a grant and wanted my bank info or I could go to Walmart and get a moneygram. I also got hung up on when I told them it was a scam. Before he hung up he gave me 3 phone numbers and each one was a number that he answered. I reported him.

It's simple, do not pick up your phone. If they need you, they will leave a message on your answering machine. On my cellphone I blocked 250 phone numbers & will block thousands. You just press one button " block " under the Caller-ID. Isn't simple people.

Too bad our phones don't block that easily. We have to pretty much contact our providers to block numbers. >.<

As I said before, legit services that give you grants ALWAYS takes the money out of the grant itself, so what you get is, not a hole in your pocket, but full of cash. If they need you to pay for money, it's definitely a scam. Real grants take fees out of the grant itself.


I got a call today from DC 202-777-1100 promising the same $9,000.00 grant. I KNEW it was a scam because I hadn't applied for anything and the government doesn't just give money away randomly.
I have blocked the number, but I'm sure they'll call back again with another number. I'll just put it here so people can see.

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