How the scam works:
Say you receive a Facebook message from your sister. Not suspecting anything, you start reading: “Hey hon, make time today to apply for this. It’s not advertised publicly. I got the info from someone at work, so I am sure you will get the grant. It’s what you need, and you can only get it today! I am in meetings for the next few hours, so my phone is off. I will call you as soon as I am done”.
She gives you a link, which seems to be a Government webpage. They are giving a $12,000 grant to hard working individuals who either own a small business or are thinking of opening one. The grant is available only today, so you really have to get the ball rolling ASAP.
You download the form and might even call the phone number listed, for more information.
After you are assured that you completed everything properly and your chances to get the grant are high, you submit the application along with a $199 fee.
You are told to wait five business days for the official results, but they will never come. What happened? Scammers create bogus Government pages with fake phone numbers and then hack into people’s Facebook accounts and start sending messages like the one above.
How to avoid:
The crooks have everything set up so when you read your sister’s message you notice the fact that she won’t answer her phone, so you know not to call her. Even worse, the scammers could even talk to you live on Facebook using the chat feature, while you really think it is your sister. You only have a few business hours to apply and criminals make everything possible to avoid the victims calling the other person. Always refuse to proceed if you are rushed to pay a fee, especially in a case like this. Talk to the real person who sent you the message. If you really can’t speak to them, examine the website very carefully. Click on the links that should be on the real Government’s website, to see if they all take you where they claim they do (on an official website there are always links to their programs and services, contacts in different departments, news releases, etc).
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