"Free Government Grant" Phone Scam Targets Bluegrass

Beware of calls stating that you have been chosen to receive a government grant.
May 28, 2014


“You have been chosen to receive a free U.S. government grant of $7,000 to use for whatever you want,” is the message in the latest round of scam calls begin reported by Kentucky residents. Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky warns that these calls are not from any government agency and urges recipients of these calls to hang up on these con artists.


 “Reports about this scam have been increasing recently,” said Jack Frank, President & CEO of BBB serving Central & Eastern Kentucky.  “Luckily, those that have contacted our office haven’t fallen for this scam, but it could be easy to do, especially if the intended victim was in a dire financial situation and saw this as a sure-fire way to ease their burden.”


 Residents tell BBB that the callers say they are with the “U.S. Treasury Department”, the “Federal Reserve Bank,” or some other official-sounding name.  When recipients of the calls ask why they were chosen, they are given various reasons such as “you have never declared bankruptcy,” “senior citizens in your area have been selected,” or “you are a good citizen who pays your taxes on time.”


The catch follows:  the consumer is asked for his or her bank account number so that the “grant” can be deposited, or the consumer is told to go to the local Western Union office to send a Moneygram by wire to cover various processing and delivery fees.  No grant will be sent, the consumer may have his or her bank account cleaned out, or lose the money wired to the scammer with no way to recover it.


In an attempt to lend credibility to the scam, some of the con artists will even “spoof” the number that is displayed on the targeted victims’ caller ID screen to carry the Washington, D.C. area code of “202.”  Other calls do not carry that area code, with further research showing that the calls originated from outside the U.S.


 “The government does not call citizens at random offering grant money, said Frank. “If they did, they would not ask for any kind of payment.  Grant money is not available to the average citizen to use for anything they like.  And as always, BBB warns NEVER to wire money to anyone you do not know.”

Consumers may check out phone calls, letters or emails they receive with Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org/lexington or (859) 259-1008 or toll-free 1-800-866-6668.


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Contact the Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky to check out companies, charities, or to report problems and scams by calling the Lexington office at (859) 259-1008 or toll-free 1-800-866-6668. Services are also available by logging on to www.bbb.org/lexington.