Government grant scam targets Facebook users

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Facebook users, you need to be on the lookout.

A common scam is making the rounds and could show up in your inbox.

Scammers are impersonating your friends and telling users about a government grant opportunity that could land you some money.

“I should have known better, but they caught me, and I paid for it,” Jaqueline Matthews said.

It started with a message on Facebook. Someone impersonating Matthews’ friend asked if she had heard of a new government grant.

“He asked me if I heard of the GEG grant. I was like, ‘No, what is that?’ He said you can tell them what you need the money for, and you don’t have to pay it back,” Matthews said.

Matthews was given a number to text. Someone on the other end told her she would have to pay a fee, and then she would get $35,000 in return.

She ended up sending more than $900 virtually and in gift cards to the scammer.

“It makes me sick to my stomach you would prey on people who are already struggling,” Matthews said.

Government grant scams like these are nothing new.

But now, the Better Business Bureau says scammers are using inflation and high gas prices to prey on people who are already struggling.

“As gas prices soar and inflation gets worse, we’re going to see more and more of this scam,” Daniel Irwin with the BBB of the MidSouth.

Irwin said scammers will do everything they can to convince you they are part of a government agency.

But there are some warning signs you can look out for.

“The government doesn’t just give out grants like that,” Irwin said. “They certainly don’t advertise on Facebook, and grants are free money. You’re never going to have to pay for a grant.”

As for Matthews, she has a message for those doing this.

“For you to prey on somebody who is barely making it, you are sick. Something is seriously wrong with you,” she said. “But I want you to know God is watching you, and you’re not going to get away with it.”

If you think you paid a scammer, you should act quickly and report it to the BBB or police.

You can also contact the company you used to pay the money and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction.