BBB Scam of the Week: Government grant scams on Facebook

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MONROE, La (KNOE) - Scammers continue to con Facebook users out of thousands of dollars with phony government grant offers. You may be among the many Facebook users who have been approached by "friends" claiming you are eligible to receive a "free" U.S. government grant. In the end, there is no free government grant, but instead, an elaborate scheme to steal your personal information and money.

Courtesy: MGN Online

The scam generally works like this:
1. You receive a message on Facebook detailing information on free grant money from the government.
2. This message may come from a recently added Facebook friend, a family member, or a long-term friend.
3. The message may reference other Facebook users, or people in your friend list, that have successfully received the grant.
4. The message may even include a link to a law office, phony government website, or a real U.S. Government website to appear legitimate.
5. Sometimes the user sending you the message uses the name and photo of a real Government official or well-known public figure.
6. No matter who is sending the message, or how they word it, eventually you will be asked to supply personal information and payment for processing fees.

What should you do?

1. Un-friend and block these users immediately.
2. If the message came from a person you know in real life, it is likely their account has been hacked or their profile has been cloned.
3. Contact them offline as they may not be aware they've been compromised and report the abuse to Facebook.
According to BBB ScamTracker data, there have been 508 reports of Facebook Government Grant scams submitted to BBB in the past three years with losses totaling $361,744.
BBB has more information on Grant Scams in general and tips for avoiding them here.

Here are some tips you should always keep in mind on Facebook:

1. Be careful with friend requests from strangers.
2. We all want to have new friends, but try to keep your social networking friends to folks you know outside of the social media platform.
3. If it appears the request is from a business contact or friend of a friend, send them a message after accepting to test their legitimacy.
4. If they don't seem real or connected to your life, un-friend them.