Posts Tagged ‘Fraud’

Beware of Online Stimulus Offers

Saturday, March 28th, 2009
Don't Be a Pawn

Don't Be a Pawn

As administrator of this blog, I spend some time deleting spam comments to this site (although I am grateful that WordPress makes this task much easier for me).  I have noticed a recent trend of spammers offering help in securing federal government stimulus money for small businesses. Apparently my blog site is not the only one they are targeting. A recent report in the Los Angeles Times quoted Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Alison Southwick as saying “we started seeing these ads pop up online, promising people could get $10,000, even before the stimulus package was passed”. According to the LA Times article, a paid Google search ad leading to “Jessica’s Money Blog” advertised, “Obama approved $12k stimulus checks and I already received my grant”. Unfortunately, this is not a new scam. After major disasters (the current one being an economic, rather than a natural, disaster), scammers appear offering help in securing government grants – for a fee. However the severity of the current recession suggests that people may be more desperate to suspend disbelief for a vague promise of assistance and scammers are more aggressive in taking full advantage. recently reported a scam in which an online company sells a CD with advice on procuring grants for a $1.98 fee, collecting a bank account or credit-card number to process the fee. Days or weeks later, the consumers, or small business owners, start seeing recurring charges hit their banks accounts in the amounts of $30 to $70. The Wall Street Journal wrote about a small Texas toy store that lost $600 after a supposed government grant expert the owner found online claimed the business qualified for a $125,000 minority-owned business grant.

You should be skeptical of any solicitation offering you free money. Someone who has access to free money sources is unlikely to have identified and contacted you; such a party likely has another agenda. And you should never give your credit card, debit card or other banking information to such parties. This is an invitation to fraud. Information about government programs is free to all and you can find out whatever you need to know directly from government agencies without paying an intermediary.