Warnings About Grant Scams

A viewer from Greenville brought a possible scam to the attention of WITN. When we asked the N.C. Department of Justice about grantoutlet.com, they had not received of any complaints from that company. They did, however, say the check and letter our viewer received fit the bill for other grant scams. Here's more information from the N.C. Attorney General's Office about grant scams.

You’re reading your local newspaper or surfing the Internet when suddenly you see an advertisement promising tens of thousands of dollars in free government grants. The ad claims that you can use this money for nearly anything – to pay your rent or mortgage, buy a home, or cover taxes, childcare costs or medical bills. Who wouldn’t want free money? But remember that old adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

More and more of these grant offers have popped up in recent months. In addition to ads, telemarketers may also call to pitch their services to help you win a government grant, or to congratulate you for winning a grant you don’t recall applying for in the first place.

Whether you spot an ad or get a call, here’s how these schemes usually work: the company tells you that a ton of money is available through government grants for people just like you, and they can help you learn how to access these grants. They tell you that unlike a loan, these grants never need to be repaid and don’t require a credit check. All you have to do to get the money is fill out an application and pay the company a fee. Or they tell you that you’ve already won a grant, then ask you to hand over money or your bank account information before you can get the grant.

Unfortunately, if you pay the fee you’ll likely never see one dime of grant money.

My office recently stopped one company operating right here in North Carolina, Grant Writing Plus of Hickory, that charged people as much as $24,000 for help winning grants but left consumers complaining that they didn’t receive a thing for their money. The company lured consumers with ads that said,“NEED $50,000? Up to $1,000,000 Guaranteed! Free Grant Money for Almost Any Reason!”

While Grant Writing Plus is under court order to stop taking people’s money, there are other groups out there still trying to use the promise of a free grant to take your hard-earned money. To avoid scams, follow these tips:

• Beware of anyone promising free or easy money in exchange for an upfront fee.
• Don’t be fooled by telephone calls or official-looking letters that tell you you’ve unexpectedly won a government grant you didn’t apply for, and don’t give out personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers in order to receive a grant.
• Steer clear of grant offers that claim you can use the money for anything you want. Most legitimate government grants given to individuals are for specific purposes, for example, to pay for emergency repairs after a natural disaster, fund research projects, start certain types of small businesses or cover college costs.
• Don’t fall for outfits that guarantee you a government grant. Legitimate government grant programs are competitive, and not everyone who applies gets funding.
• Do your homework to make sure a company is legitimate before doing business with it. Find out the company’s name, its physical address, including the country where it’s based, and a telephone number so you can communicate with the company about all the important details.
• Instead of paying a fee for help finding grants, check directly with federal, state and local government offices to find out about grant opportunities. Information about legitimate government grants and loans is available at www.grants.gov and www.govbenefits.gov .
• Always check out a company with my Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM before you decide to do business with them.

Courtesty: N.C. Department of Justice

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Jenison Dominguez Location: Holly Springs, NC on Jan 7, 2009 at 04:14 PM
    Thanks for your advisory, I will be contacting you soon.
  • by barbara Location: al on May 5, 2008 at 09:42 AM
    to whom this may concern i may have been scam cause i recieve that 3,850 check in the mail and it seem to good to be true!
  • by Vicki Location: New Orleans on Apr 22, 2008 at 03:56 PM
    I received a letter from Info Direct Grant saying I was approved for a 50,000.00 grant. Enclosed was a check for 3850.00. I called the number they said I should deposit the check and call them once it cleared. The company's name on the check was The Mallory Company. I called the phone number listed on yellow pages.com a lady answered and said that this is a fraud that they are not writing these checks. The phone number for the grant company is 514-586-3519.
  • by Liz Location: Nashville, TN on Mar 17, 2008 at 04:08 PM
    To: Claudia This is definitely a scam. I am being threatened by these people, even though I have never received anything from them or purchased anything from them. They are from the U.S. - Tempe, Az as far as I can tell. They harass you, threaten you, try to intimidate you into giving them more money and are very coniving. Do NOT deal with these people.
  • by Dee on Feb 19, 2008 at 12:44 PM
    Does any one have any info on a company called Small Business Funding Company Inc. If so please let me know!
  • by Claudia Location: Plymouth, NC on Nov 3, 2007 at 08:00 AM
    I rec'd a phone call the other day from a woman named Phyllis claiming she was from VISA/MC; she was calling in response to something I had filled out regarding a home based business (I couldn't remember which one because I've filled out so many.)She claimed that VISA/MC were recruiting people for their Merchant Banking business. She asked if I had a few minutes to listen to a tape, which I did. At the end of tape, a man named Chadwick Sylva (Phoenix, AZ VISA ofc) came on the phone & even though he said he was not there to sell me anything, he tried his best to get me to buy into this business thing at the $495 level. There was also a $100 level but that the $495 level would get me started right away. My commission would be $500 for each credit card machine that I sold plus residuals from each machine for life. Oh, training was also promised. Here is the phone number I was able to get from him: 877-227-3597. Pls let me know the outcome of this. Thank you WITN!
  • by lakeba wickett Location: pine bluff arkansas on Sep 25, 2007 at 01:04 PM
    I am a victim of a scam before they got me out of about 900.00 last year this time and I haven't bounced back from that I am trying to see if I should apply for this grant from this company so I am looking into it.
    Editor's note: Post edited for content.
  • by Thelma Location: Greenville on Sep 7, 2007 at 08:22 PM
    I agree with all of this, we do have to be careful of these scams, I have been fooled several times, so I don't even listen to this advertisement. I get a emails all the times said that I have won x amount of money. email this person and they will tell you what to do.. So we do have to be careful. If it is real you will get it, and pay only the taxes... Thanks for the info.

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