BBB warns of government grant fraud

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A few people around Fort Wayne are getting calls from people who say they’re with the government. The group claims to be giving out government grants to people who’ve been good citizens.

A Fort Wayne woman said she got a call Tuesday morning telling her she had been chosen for an $8,000 grant because she paid all of her bills and hadn’t declared bankruptcy in the past six months. The caller then gave her another number to call. When that number is called, someone answers claiming to be from the “Accounts and Finance Department.”

NewsChannel 15 called the number with a 360-area code. The person told us we had to purchase a Green Dot Moneypak, and we would get our money in 20 minutes. Then, that person advised that we would need to upgrade the card and go to our bank or any Western Union and cash it. When we asked about mailing a check, they said they could only mail a check if we had applied for the grant, but since we were chosen, a moneypak was the only option.

“One thing we want to stress to consumers is that the government’s not going to call you about a grant,” Marjorie Stephens, the CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana, said.

She said if a person is receiving a government grant, there will always be an application process, and there will be no associated fee. However, she said she sees similar fraud attempts about every three months. She said her office urges people to be alert and watch for red flags such as a thick foreign accent.

“Once you put that money on the card and you send it, you’ll never see that money again because this fraud is most likely happening overseas,” Stephens said.

She said once the money is gone it is extremely difficult to get it back. She said the BBB hasn’t seen anyone in the area become a victim of this particular fraud attempt. However, they do want to warn people of what they’re calling the “Grandparent Scheme.” People will call saying your grandchild has been put in jail in Mexico, and you need to pay their bail.  Unfortunately, a lady in Allen County had $10,000 stolen from her by falling victim to it. 

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