Wednesday, May 1, 2024

How To Scam The Government For Money

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How Do I Report Immigration Fraud

Government grant scams making rounds on Facebook messenger

Call the Canada Border Services Agency Border Watch Toll-Free Line at 1-888-502-9060 to report:

  • suspicious activity at the border
  • a marriage of convenience
  • a person who has given false information on any immigration application or
  • a person wanted on an immigration warrant

What you tell the tip line is private. Your identity stays protected.

Common Methods Of Identity Theft

  • Phishing – the scammer tricks you into handing over your personal information.
  • Hacking – the scammer gains access to your information by exploiting security weaknesses on your computer, mobile device or network. Scammers can also obtain your information when they hack into business or government accounts.
  • Remote access scams – the scammer tricks you into giving access to your computer and paying for a service you don’t need.
  • Malware & ransomware – malware tricks you into installing software that allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing, while ransomware demands payment to unlock your computer or files.
  • Fake online profiles – the scammer sets up a fake profile on a social media or dating site and sends you a friend request.
  • Document theft – the scammer gains access to your private information through unlocked mailboxes or discarded personal documents such as utility bills, insurance renewals or health care records.
  • Data breaches – the scammer obtains your data through accidental data breaches of business or government accounts. You may not even be aware that some of your information has made its way to scammers.

You Have Been Awarded A Federal Grant That You Can Spend Any Way You Like

Federal grants are usually awarded for specific programs, research or projects most often to local governments, organizations, institutions and universities. Beware of any individual who promises a government award that can be spent on paying down tuition or credit card debt, or home electronics and décor.

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More Money From The Government

Congress has just passed another bill to help the people whose finances are taking a beating from the pandemic. Once again, some of us will be getting money by check or direct deposit. The timing and details are still TBA, but heres what we know:

  • The government wont ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • The government wont call, text, email, or contact you on social media to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Theres no such thing as getting your money early, or faster. Anyone who says they can hook you up now is both lying and a scammer.
  • We know from the early days of the CARES Act that scammers will be using numbers 1, 2, and 3, above, as part of their playbook. So, if you spot someone who says any of these things, you know theyre a scammer can warn someone you know about the scam, because theyll get that call, text, or email, too and can tell the FTC so we can work to stop scammers and warn people about them:

    How Do I Report Abuse

    Phone calls promising government grants are scams

    Any behaviour that scares, threatens, controls or isolates you could be abuse. Abuse can be physical, sexual, financial or mental.

    You dont have to stay in an abusive relationship or workplace to keep your status in Canada.

    The person whos abusing you might tell you that youll be deported or lose your children if you leave. Whether youre a permanent resident, or you have temporary status in Canada, you have options. You can escape violence, harassment or other abuse.

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    Get Assistance With Childcare Expenses

    Paying for childcare is expensive. For families in the D.C. area, where I live, the average annual cost is $22,658. Thats absurd and, frankly, impossible to cover for many families.

    If you are employed and looking for assistance with childcare expenses, the government has a program to help. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers assistance in the form of the Child Care and Development Fund, which has state- and territory-specific allocations to assist with care expenses .

    To find funding options for your area, visit the CCDFs web page here.

    Protect Yourself From Telephone Scams

    Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a telephone scam:


    • Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may register online or by calling . If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, theres a good chance that the calls are scams.
    • Be wary of callers claiming that youve won a prize or vacation package.
    • Hang up on suspicious phone calls.
    • Be cautious of caller ID. Scammers can change the phone number that shows up on your caller ID screen. This is called spoofing.


    • Dont give in to pressure to take immediate action.
    • Dont say anything if a caller starts the call asking, Can you hear me? This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying yes. Scammers record your yes response and use it as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.
    • Dont provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.
    • Dont send money if a caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

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    Overview: What Are Grant Scams

    Grants offer money to people and small business owners. The best part of a grant is the funds are free you dont have to pay back the organization or institution that gives you the money.

    For many small business owners, grants provide funds that can help sustain and grow their business over the short term. Thats why its not that surprising that landing a grant is coveted, but if youve spent any time researching how to get a grant, youll know its not exactly a walk in the park.

    Grants, especially at the federal level, require many steps, including official paperwork, financial documentation, and a completed grant proposal. Unless youve found a grant offer, gathered all that information, written a proposal, and sent off an application, you arent going to get an email simply offering you free money.

    And yet, its not uncommon for a federal grant money scam to defraud hundreds of small business owners each year. These scams try to get your tax information, including your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number , bank account information, or actual funds. Any personal identification they get from you helps them open credit cards, take out loans, or transfer funds to new bank accounts.

    The Better Business Bureau estimates that approximately 6% of small business owners fall victim to scams each year — to the tune of $7 billion in total losses. Its important to stay vigilant.

    Scams Targeting Social Security Benefits

    Government grant scams: Here’s how to avoid them

    While local Social Security Administration offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, SSA will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Scammers may mislead people into believing they need to provide personal information or pay by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash to maintain regular benefit payments during this period. Any communication that says SSA will suspend or decrease your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email, or phone call.

    What to do: Report Social Security scams to the SSA Inspector General online at

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    Gst/hst Tax Refund Scam

    What is it: Scammers are targeting individuals by email, claiming that the CRA is sending them a GST/HST tax refund, and are requesting personal information to proceed.

    How to recognize it: The fraudulent email claims to be from the CRA. Scammers send an email to the taxpayer, asking them to click on a link to complete an attached application form by an urgent deadline to receive their refund.

    What to do:

    • Do not click any links in the email, reply or send them any personal or financial information.
    • The CRA will not ask you by email for:
    • personal information
    • payments by e-transfers or gift cards

    Medicare And Social Security Scams Are Common

    Social Security numbers are a common target. The Justice Department has issued a warning about a scam in which thieves pretending to be from the Social Security Administration call people and tell them their Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because its been involved in a crime.

    Thieves ask victims to confirm their number or they tell them to withdraw money from the bank and store it on gift cards for safekeeping. Victims are also told their accounts may be seized or frozen if they fail to act soon enough.

    The Minnesota Attorney General issued a warning about a reported scam where callers claimed to be from Medicare, Social Security or an insurance company. They say new Medicare, Social Security or supplemental insurance benefits cards are being issued or that the beneficiarys information on file needs to be updated. The thief asks the victim to verify or provide their personal banking information, which the scammer later uses to steal from the victim.

    Then there are the scammers who impersonate local law enforcement officers and get victims to send money because subpoenas or warrants have been issued against them.

    These perpetrators often use robocalls. Victims may be told that their Social Security number has been inactivated and they need to press 1 to speak to a government support representative for help reactivating it.

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    You Won The Government Grant In A Drawing

    The government does not award grants based on a drawing or raffle an individual or entity must first apply for the grant through a federal website, like Any individual who claims the government is awarding a grant, for example, to a lucky group of citizens who have paid their taxes on time is attempting to scam you.

    Search For Money From Insurance

    • VA Life Insurance Funds Search the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs database for unclaimed insurance funds.
    • The VA may owe money to current or former policyholders or their beneficiaries.
    • This database doesnt include funds from:
    • Servicemembers Group Life Insurance
    • Veterans Group Life Insurance policies from 1965 to the present
  • FHA-Insurance Refunds If you had an FHA-insured mortgage, you may be eligible for a refund. FHA insurance refunds are issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development .
  • Search the HUD database with your FHA case number. Case numbers have three digits, a dash, and the next six digitsfor example, 051-456789.
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    Email Message Offering A Refund

    What is it: An email message scam impersonating the CRA to offer fake refunds to Canadians. This is known as phishing.

    How to recognize it: Scammers will send you an email message from a fake CRA email address, offering a refund. The email will state that the CRA owes you a refund, and ask you to click on the link provided. If you click on the link, you will be asked to provide:

    • personal information such as your social insurance number, date of birth or your name
    • online banking information to accept the refund by e-transfer

    What to do: Do not reply to the email message or send them any personal information.

    The CRA will not ask you by email for:

    • personal information
    • payments by e-transfers or gift cards

    Red Flags Of A Government/military Imposter Scam

    If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the government or military, there are some red flags to watch out for that may indicate that you are being scammed, such as:

    • The caller claims to be from a government agency, like the IRS, VA or Social Security Administration.
    • They demand immediate payment, often through gift cards, prepaid debit cards or wire transfer.
    • The caller threatens to arrest you or have your utilities cut off if you dont pay.
    • The caller says you must pay to avoid some kind of legal action.
    • The caller asks for personal information, like your Social Security number or bank account information.

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    Phony Solicitations For Grants

    The Minnesota Attorney Generals Office warns people to be alert for solicitations from scam artistsâsometimes posing as your own friendsâpromising access to grants or free money. These fraudsters claim that they can help you access such money, but instead, it is the fraudsters that are seeking access to your money or personal information. It can happen like this:

    Amyreceived a call fromMike,who claimed to work for the United States Treasury Department. Mike told Amy that she was selected to receive a $9,000 grant from the IRS because she had paid her taxes on time. Mike then asked Amy to send him $500 via a wire transfer to pay for a processing fee to receive the grant. Amy realized the call was a scam and hung up.

    Doug received a Facebook message from his friend Hank telling him that he was eligible for a grant from a local non-profit organization. Hank asked Doug to send his credit card information to him so that the money could be transferred to his account. After Doug sent the information, he noticed several unauthorized charges to his credit card. He then called Hank, who told him that his Facebook account had been hacked. Doug disputed the charges with his credit card company, which reversed the charges and changed his account number.

    Business Opportunities Or Employment Scams

    Government grant scam promises free money

    Jobs that require you pay upfront for training or equipment, or send you checks to deposit, are often scams especially if you don’t have any independent information on the company. See the above counterfeit check scams and be suspicious if you are accidentally overpaid and then asked to send or wire the difference back to the company. Here’s a tip: If the job is easy to get, such as if you didnt even have a legitimate interview, pays extremely well and requires very little work , you should be suspicious. It’s probably too good to be true.

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    The Basics Of Government/military Imposter Scams

    A government or military imposter scam is a type of fraud where scammers pose as government officials or military members in order to trick you into giving them money or personal information. These scams can take many different forms, but all aim to exploit your trust in the government and/or military.

    During a government imposter scam, the scammer will pretend to contact you from a government or military agency such as the IRS, Medicare , Social Security Administration or VA. They claim that if you dont pay a fine or provide personal information you could be deported or arrested, or lose your government/military benefits.

    3 Common Tactics Used by a Government Imposter Scammer

    There are several common tactics that scammers use in a government imposter scam to trick people into giving them money or personal information, such as:

    • Posing as a representative from a real government or military agency, such as the IRS, Social Security Administration, the VA, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
    • Using fake websites or email addresses that look like they are from a government or military agency.

    Billions Stolen In Covid Relief Funds

    Russian mobsters, Chinese hackers and Nigerian scammers have used stolen identities to plunder tens of billions of dollars in Covid benefits, spiriting the money overseas in a massive transfer of wealth from U.S. taxpayers, officials and experts say. And they say it is still happening.

    Among the ripest targets for the cybertheft have been jobless programs. The federal government cannot say for sure how much of the more than $900 billion in pandemic-related unemployment relief has been stolen, but credible estimates range from $87 billion to $400 billion at least half of which went to foreign criminals, law enforcement officials say.

    Those staggering sums dwarf, even on the low end, what the federal government spends every year on intelligence collection, food stamps or K-12 education.

    “This is perhaps the single biggest organized fraud heist we’ve ever seen,” said security researcher Armen Najarian of the firm RSA, who tracked a Nigerian fraud ring as it allegedly siphoned millions of dollars out of more than a dozen states.

    Jeremy Sheridan, who directs the office of investigations at the Secret Service, called it “the largest fraud scheme that I’ve ever encountered.”

    “Due to the volume and pace at which these funds were made available and a lot of the requirements that were lifted in order to release them, criminals seized on that opportunity and were very, very successful and continue to be successful,” he said.

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    How The Lottery Scam Works

    With this type of scam, you get an email , that says youve won a huge amount of money.

    Except that you havent even entered a lottery or any type of sweepstakes.

    So, its a totally bogus offer.

    The biggest red flag, aside from this unexpected email for a draw you dont remember entering, is the fact that the email asks you to pay a fee so that your winnings can be processed.

    Sometimes, the email doesnt ask you to pay a fee, but instead, says that it requires more information from you basically, the scammer is trying to get personal information from you!

    How to protect yourself from Lottery Scams

    Unless you have bought an official lottery ticket, or have entered a legitimate contest, then you wont have won money.

    Plus, if you have won the lottery, its your responsibility to contact the retailer.

    State lotteries will publish the results online or will broadcast them on television not by emailing you directly.

    Its the responsibility of the ticket holder to make a claim for the winnings.

    Hence why you hear those stories of those unclaimed winnings!

    Where to report Lottery Scams

    If you have been the victim of a lottery or other prize scam, then contact the Federal Trade Commission.

    You can report a lottery scam to the FTC online here.

    Or you can give the FTC a call on 1-877-382-4357.

    If the scam involves U.S. mail, then you can also contact a postal inspector, which you can do here.

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