On Your Side: Grant Scams

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News 12 at 6, October 25, 2007

AUGUSTA –- It sounds fantastic; you get a call promising a lot of money that you can do just about anything with and all you have to do is pay a few fees. But 12 On Your Side says, it's a deal that you don't want to make.

They're called grant scams. They do promise a lot of money, but the only thing they'll deliver is a chance for you to get robbed.

Tiera Geter got a call recently that could have changed her life.

"A lady was on the line saying you have been awarded a $4500 federal grant," she said.

That's an amount of money that Tiera could have really used for her family and her education.

"She went on to say that grants are free. You don't have to pay them back," Tiera said.

Does the phrase ‘too good to be true come to mind’? A simple call from a stranger promising free money?

"I knew there was a catch in it," she said.

Tiera is a student working on a degree and not too long ago, she learned about something that came in very handy during this particular call.

"We just finished a few courses on grant writing," she said.

That means she had a little more background on this than the average person. She was already suspicious, but when she was told she'd have to pay $300 to get her money, she grew even more wary.

"She said do you have a checking account? And all sorts of red flags went off then," Tiera said.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says there are a few things to remember with government grants:

1) They never require a processing fee.
2) Don't ever accept grant money for a grant you never applied for.
3) Remember, information on legitimate grants is available for you online free of charge.

Luckily, Tiera wasn't taken, but she wants to share her story to save you from ever falling victim to this con.

"Someone who doesn't know any better would say, ‘sure, spend $300 to get $4500’ and then they have all your personal info," she added.

Just remember, the chances of someone offering you free money out of the blue are next to nothing. If you get one of these calls or a letter with the same promise, just disregard it.

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