Lincoln County couple taken by ‘free government grant’ scam

Published 7:03 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

Senior citizens lost $200 to Pervasive Phone Con

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

News release 

A Lincoln County couple has lost $200 in a phone scam where the perpetrator pretends to be awarding “free government grants.”

A senior citizen tells the Better Business Bureau she answered a phone call Wednesday night telling her she’d been selected to receive a free government grant, worth several thousands of dollars. She was instructed to visit a Walmart to make arrangements to pay the “processing fee,” either through a Western Union transfer or iTunes gift cards.

She purchased the gift cards and gave the numbers off the back of them to the scammer. Today, the woman says the scammer called asking for another $200 to “process” the grant.  That’s when she got suspicious and called BBB.

BBB warns the public that there is no government agency calling residents offering any grants. This scam also targets people through other venues such as Facebook.The other red flag of a scam is the fact that the caller requested payment via unrecoverable methods.

“Once the numbers on the back of the iTunes cards are given to the con artist, he cleans out the value, leaving the victim with nothing,” said Heather Clary, BBB director of communications. “The same thing would have happened had this couple sent the money by Western Union. The scammer can pick up the money from anywhere and the consumer is usually unable to get it back.”

Clary said the main thing to remember is that if you have to send money to receive money, it’s a scam.

BBB urges residents to be very cautious with unsolicited phone calls from entities pretending to be government agencies. “Any government agencies that have business to conduct with a citizen are going to make contact by mail first,” said Clary.

Consumers may report scams to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker.

SO YOU KNOW 

To contact the Better Business Bureau and check out companies and charities, or to report problems and scams, by call the Lexington office at (859) 259-1008 or toll-free at (800) 866-6668. Services are also available by logging on to www.bbb.org/lexington.