Categorized | Features, Pushback

Government Grant Scam Costs Elderly Woman $3,200

Grant

The scam artist texted Alice what he claimed was a screen shot of her U.S. Treasury check with most of the check obscured. Supposedly this check was awarded as part of a government grant program.

By Al Norman

Alice, 77, lives in rural New England. She received a Facebook Messenger text from a work colleague named Ron, who told her she could qualify for a large cash award from the government. She would get a text the next morning to determine eligibility.

Alice is very embarrassed that she was taken by this scam. But, she worked in real estate in New York before moving to New England and thought she was dealing with a referral from a trusted friend.

The actual text conversations below were edited from Alice’s iPhone:

I’m Bill Phillips, the agent in charge of the Grant claiming for Workers Compensation Appeals.

The Grants are awarded to individuals each and every day. Grant programs are not loans. You decide how much you need once you’re approved.  As long as the amount is lawful and you meet the Foundations’ and Government Agencies’ requirements, the money is yours to keep and never needs to be repaid…Only you as a taxpayer and U.S. citizen are entitled to apply for this Grant.

Bill asked her to text him an armful of personal info: name & Address, DOB, gender & marital status, phone network provider, job & monthly/weekly income, and clear picture of her ID.

grant, Trump, medicaid, nursing

Norman

Bill: Kindly answer it all now and I will inform you on your approval for the WCAB. We respect your privacy and will not sell your information to third parties. Kindly confirm that the information you provided about you are 100% correct to our Online Information And Record Department (OIRD) database.

Bill asked Alice to send a screen shot of her Social Security card. He said his “UPS Delivery Department” and “the WCAB Administrative Department” needed her SS card to finish processing her data.

Bill: We congratulate you for being among the WCAB beneficiary of the Year. Check your email. Your Grant details will be sent to you now to claim your WCAB Grant…Now we are about to send you the list of the amount you are qualified for so you can choose and pay for the clearance fee.

Bill sent her winning number, ticket number serial number — and told her to “Keep it safe as you will be asked to provide it when your fund is brought to your doorstep.” He gave Alice a list of payment levels from $1,500 to $50,000 she would make first, in return for grants ranging from $70,000 to $5 million. “you have to choose wisely. Get back to me on the text number with your preferable amount,” he wrote.
Alice chose to pay $1,500 to get $70,000. Bill instructed her to go to her nearby Walgreen’s store and “get a $1,500 Vanilla gift card and your Grant check will be delivered to you by 1:00pm.”

Alice: Thank you. Omg this is wonderful.

Bill: Yes Madam… congratulations…Good night…sweet dreams.

The next day, Bill told Alice how to buy and fill out three Google Play gift cards, three Vanilla Visa gift cards, and an Apple iTunes gift card. He got Alice to text a screen shot of her Driver’s License. He then texted her what he claimed was a screen shot of her U.S. Treasury check — with most of the check obscured. Then he tried for more:

Bill: Your grant money has been increased to $100,000. Congratulations Madam…and you’re getting your check tomorrow morning by 10am
Alice: Omg that’s incredible.

Bill: I contacted the FedEx men coming to your house to deliver to you your own grant money. They were stopped by the IRS officers and the IRS said they need to get an IRS certificate before they can deliver your money…so once you make the remaining payment of $4,000 to us…the UPS men will be released, and the money will be released. Remember, Ron paid $1,000 to us…so we are waiting for your $4,000 so the FedEx men can be on their way to your house now…The $4,000 is the last money you’re paying.

But Alice refused to pay the $4,000. She just wanted her $70,000. “I won’t pay any more than what I did already.”

This phishing scam took three days to consummate. Alice lost a total of $3,200. The gift cards she sent to the California text number, were spent immediately.

According to Federal Trade Commission, older adults filed 256,404 fraud reports in 2018, and lost $400 million to fraud.

If internet fraud happens to you, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov, and call your local police department. Contact the gift card companies immediately to try to void the payment. Alice knew she should never email or text anyone her driver’s license, Social Security Card, credit card or bank account info. But she did. The lure of sudden cash, offered by a trusted friend, led her into an internet trap.

Al Norman of Greenfield worked in the elderly home care field in Massachusetts for 38 years. He can be reached at alnormaneldercare@gmail.com.

 

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