CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: How to spot a grant scam on social media

Published: May. 1, 2022 at 6:00 AM CDT|Updated: May. 1, 2022 at 10:02 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A common scam is making the rounds again and it could be showing up in your Facebook Messenger.

Grant scams promise people thousands of dollars. However, victims end up losing money.

People have received the scams over phone and through letters. Consumer First Alert’s Tammy Elliott has heard from several viewers who received the scams on social media.

Sometimes it looks like it’s from a friend saying they have a great offer to sharing with you. The message says they won money after paying some small fees or taxes.

One viewer’s Facebook friend started pressuring her to fill out information to get a government grant. It turned out not to be the real friend, but an impersonator.

The link takes the viewer to a page about people winning money. There’s a photo of someone that is captioned “government agent.” The website has pictures that look like stock photos from Fed Ex. There are posts congratulating people, claiming they were big winners and received their money.

The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin says scammers will do anything to gain your trust and steal your money.

“We get these types of scam reports all the time, that somebody that they know has messaged them on Facebook or social media and they’re offering them this great opportunity for a government grant. We know this is a scam,” says Susan Bach, Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.

“Take a good look at those Facebook pages. See if there are any red flags. So, for example, how many followers does that Facebook page have? A government agency giving away money should have a lot of followers. Not that one exists, but also look at the page transparency. In your case, when was that page created? In your case, it was just recently created and there are no followers, so it’s pretty clear that this was a scam,” Bach says.

Bach says there’s an increase in grant scams on the Better Business Bureau Online Scam Tracker. In Wisconsin, they have 25 recent reports. One person says they lost $6,000.

“In that particular case, the victim said he or she knew that person and that’s why she trusted them. That’s what scammers do. They want to impersonate someone you trust or they hack the login or the Facebook account of someone you know and trust. That’s why they do that because people are more inclined to correspond with and share personal information with someone they think they already know,” says Bach.

Don’t reply to these messages. The more you message them, the longer they’ll continue.

Report it to Facebook so they can remove the page or account.

File a report on the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker to help other people avoid falling victim.

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