Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of scam calls offering government grants.
Since Jan. 1, 2014, the Attorney General’s office has received more than 100 reports of suspected grant scams. Additionally, more than 20 consumers have reported losing $200 to $6,000 or more to the ploy.
“Claims that you’ve won a grant you never applied for are almost always too good to be true,” DeWine said. “If you have to pay to receive a grant you never applied for, it’s a scam.”
In a typical grant scam, consumers receive a call saying they have won a federal grant of $7,000 to $10,000. In order to receive the grant, they must first send $200 to $300 to cover taxes, insurance, or other costs. Money must be sent via wire transfer or a prepaid money card.
Consumers who send money often will be contacted again, with the scam artist claiming that the consumer needs to send more money for additional costs. The scam artist may continue calling as long as the consumer keeps sending money. In reality, there is no grant and any money sent will be lost.
Scam artists may give the following phony justifications as to why a consumer has been selected for the grant:
“You deserve it.”
“You’re a good citizen.”
“You haven’t had any recent arrests.”
“You’re current on your taxes.”
“You have good credit.”
To protect themselves, consumers should never make an upfront payment in order to receive a grant. True government grants typically are awarded to organizations, not to individual citizens, and information about legitimate federal grants is available for free at www.Grants.gov.
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or (800) 282-0515.