GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - There's a convincing scam going through Facebook messenger right now. A viewer told Action 2 News that she nearly fell for the promise of $200,000. She said it was a grant scam.
Consumer experts say more people are becoming victims of social media scams.
The viewer said she watches our consumer alerts, but she nearly fell for this promise of big money. It started when her Facebook friend sent this simple message: "Have you heard the good news about me?"
“She told me that she'd been offered through a grant that was being offered for widowed, disabled, and low income folks to keep them out of poverty,” said the viewer who prefers to stay anonymous.
The messaging continued and she's given an agent's name to find out if she's eligible for the "retirement grant fund," but she's asked to pay $1,500 in fees. When she messaged her friend back, saying she's concerned about having to pay money to get money, the ‘friend’ vouches for the procedure and said that she paid $4,500 to get $150,000. The ‘friend’ said she received the grant money that was delivered right to her doorstep.
This all just didn't sit well with our Action 2 News viewer who said she called her friend who told her that her Facebook account was hacked. “I didn't think they could use Facebook messenger that way, that blindsided me entirely,” said the viewer.
Action 2 News has reported on versions of grant scams, but this one is perhaps even more convincing because scammers are using that trust you have in a friend on Facebook. The Federal Trade Commission said whether these offers come through social media, email or a phone call, grant scammers usually follow a similar script.
The scammers will tell you they have to verify your eligibility, then congratulate you with the promise of big money. They ask for checking account information so they can directly deposit your grant, but first you'll have to cover the processing fee. They'll even use names that sound like a real federal agency.
Here's where you can double check: The FTC directs you to grants.gov.
The website has all the names of all federal grant making agencies and real foundations that award grants. Always remember real government agencies won't ask you to pay money to claim a free government grant. This is good information to share with your friends so they don't get scammed.