SWEETWATER COUNTY – Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell today warned county residents of a telephone scam in circulation involving offers of money available through fake “government grants.”
Scammers are making calls throughout the county that inform the individual he or she has been awarded a government grant of either $7,000 or $9,000; a sum that will not have to be repaid. The caller then provides the individual with a telephone number to call to expedite the bogus grant process.
If the intended victim calls the number, instructions are provided to go to the nearest Wal-Mart or other retail store where a reloadable debit card can be purchased and a token “processing fee” of $250 to $500 paid, after which the grant funds will supposedly be made available.
Once the “processing fee” has been paid, the money disappears. There is no “grant,” of course, and the victim is out the “processing fee.”
Another approach swindlers take is to obtain the individual’s bank account information, to facilitate direct transfer of the phony “government grant.” Once scammers have an individual’s account information in hand, cleaning the account out is a simple matter.
“Never give out any of your financial information to callers like these,” said Detective Dick Blust, the Sheriff’s Office public information officer. “If you get one of these calls, just hang up. If they call back – and they are likely to – simply hang up again. Eventually, the caller will give up and move along to the next potential victim.”
The Sheriff’s Office recommends the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud as an excellent source of information to help people protect themselves against fraud and scams of all kinds.