Scholarship Scam: Local Student Learns Tough Lesson - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Scholarship Scam: Local Student Learns Tough Lesson

Updated:
New London -

In her quest for a higher education, a local college student learned a tough lesson about the dangers of scammers.

A New London woman received a phone call saying she was selected to receive a $10,000 grant to pay for her education, but it turned out to be too good to be true.

Linda Talady believed the call was the start of her good luck.

"He said, 'You can use this scholarship at any university you go to.'"

The 56-year old was taking online college courses from her New London home. To help cover the cost of school, she wrote an essay for a scholarship contest.

Four months later, she got a phone call from someone claiming to be with the federal government.  The caller told Linda she was selected from 1,500 people for a $10,000 grant.

"She said, 'Congratulations.'

"I said, 'Thank you, this is great.' I never thought in a million years that I'd ever win."

 Linda was told the $10,000 would be deposited in her bank account.

"I gave them our routing number and account number because I believed them," Linda said.

First, she had to pay $190 in taxes. The caller told her the only way to do that was with a "pre-paid" debit card she could pick up at her local Walgreens.

"I was feeling a little uneasy about it, but I thought maybe that's the way of protecting our identities," said Linda.

Luckily, her husband told the Walgreens employees about the call.

"He said, 'We don't want you to get hurt, this is a scam,'" said Gary Talady, Linda's husband.

Fortunately, they didn't lose any money, but they did give out personal information. The Taladys immediately contacted their credit union.

"We and any financial institution can take steps to protect your money," sad Amanda Secor of Community First Credit Union. "We can change your account number. That automatically cuts off access to your money."

The Wisconsin Department of Consumer Protection says a real government agency will never ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant.

Click here for important information on government grant scams.

"Those type of scams happen a lot where they're saying, 'You've won a certain amount of money as long as you provide us with payment first.' And in pretty much every instance, that is not the case." said Secor.

"They're looking for a way to get money that isn't traceable back to them, and that's a big red flag."

Linda Talady wants this to be a lesson for students who might be tempted by a similar scholarship offer.

"I don't want these people to be scamming all these college students, especially the younger ones."

Consumer Protection says the lists of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the internet.  You can find that information by clicking on www.grants.gov

If you feel you've been a victim of a grant scam, or any scam, call the Wisconsin Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or go online to http://datcp.wi.gov

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