(Lexington, KY) – Scam artists claiming to represent the U.S. government are calling consumers all over central and eastern Kentucky saying they have been "selected" by the government to receive a "free grant" to use for whatever they want. The Better Business Bureau of Central & Eastern Kentucky warns the public that there are no such grants and not to give the callers any information or send any money.
"With the tough economy, people may become more susceptible to falling for this scam," said Jack Frank, President & CEO of the BBB of Central & Eastern Kentucky. "People need to realize that the government is NOT contacting people to award any money, despite what the con artists are saying on the phone." At least a couple of consumers have been tricked into giving their bank account numbers over the phone.
Some consumers report being told they were "selected" to receive grants because they paid their taxes on time, or never declared bankruptcy. Some were told to send money via MoneyGram in varying amounts to cover fees. Others were instructed to give their bank account numbers so the "funds can be transferred" into their accounts. "All this does is allow the scammer access to your bank account to clean it out," warned Frank.
Government grants are not available to the public to use for whatever they want, like trips, paying bills, or fixing up the house like the scammers are saying. Caller ID on some consumers' phones are showing "private" for the calls, while others show phone numbers with 202 area codes, which is the area code for Washington D.C. The BBB believes that is in an effort to convince the victims that the call is legitimately from the government. Consumers describe the callers as having thick, foreign accents and stating they are calling from the U.S. Treasury or other federal government department.
Anyone who receives one of these calls should hang up immediately. If you have given any bank account information, contact your financial institution as soon as possible to see if they can block access before it is too late. Consumers may contact the BBB with questions at (859) 259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668.