ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - The Abilene Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a press release Monday as a warning regarding fake messages from Facebook "friends" promising free grant money.
Potential victims are targeted by receiving a private message or seeing a post on someone's wall stating that they have been awarded free grant money from the government, and are asking others to do the same, according to the release.
The "friend" sending the message is typically one the victim has spoken to before, but not often, according to the release.
Once replying to the message, the victim is directed toward someone posing as a government official who will ask to be wired money for a one-time "grant processing fee", according to the release. In other versions, the victim may be asked to provide their checking account information.
There are multiple ways to spot the scam, according to the release:
- The government communicates through the mail, not Facebook. Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited social media posts, calls, text messages or emails you receive.
- Don't pay any money for a "free" government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it isn't really free. A real government agency won't ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded.
- Be wary of look-a-like government agencies. Just because the caller says he's from the "Federal Grants Administration" doesn't mean that he is... or that such an agency exists. When in doubt, do a quick online search.
- Pick up the phone. If you receive a suspicious call or email, call the local government agency to check its legitimacy. Look for the phone number on previous correspondence or the official government website. Don't call the number in the email.
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