Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine last week warned Ohioans to beware of phony offers for federal grants. In recent weeks, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received dozens of reports of grant scams from people across Ohio.
“Scam artists will call and say you can get a $9,000 grant from the federal government if you pay a few hundred dollars first. It’s a lie,” DeWine said. “The truth is the scam artists will take your money, but you won’t get anything in return.”
The scam often begins when someone receives a phone call or Facebook message about a grant opportunity. Con artists may claim the person has been selected for a grant for being a good citizen, paying taxes, or not having a criminal record, and they tell the person to pay a few hundred dollars to cover processing fees or taxes in order to receive the larger payout. In reality, there is no grant and any money the person sends will be lost.
Most people who report the scam haven’t lost any money, but overall this year, about 50 people have reported losses ranging from $200 to $48,000 to grant scams. Payment usually is made using wire transfers or iTunes cards, which makes it difficult to track or recover the money once it’s sent.
To help consumers avoid grant scams, DeWine offered the following tips:
– Don’t pay up front to receive a grant you never applied for.
– Be cautious any time you’re asked to pay using a gift card, wire transfer, or money order, which are commonly used in scams.
– Keep in mind that true government grants typically are awarded to organizations, not to individual citizens, and information about federal grants is available for free at www.Grants.gov.
Report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or by calling 800-282-0515.