Ken Paxton
Consumer Protection

Beware of Bogus " Government Grants "

Government grants are not awarded to people who have not applied for them.

A consumer recently called us to ask about a so-called government grant that she was supposedly getting. She had not applied for a grant of any kind. She had just received an unsolicited phone call from someone who told her that a friend had applied for a government grant in her name. That was supposedly how the caller had gotten her phone number. The caller did not identify himself or the type of government grant. He asked her several questions, including how would she use the grant money. She told the caller she would improve the accommodations for her handicapped daughter. The caller also asked for her bank account number, saying there was a processing fee of $269. He asked her to have the money in her account by April 24th. If the money was in her account by then, and her "eligibiliy matched up," the caller said, the $25,000 government grant would be deposited directly into her account.

The consumer called her loan officer who wants to see the paperwork the caller said he was going to mail her on the 24th. We told the consumer to call her bank back and say that the "grant" is nothing more than a scam, and to request that the $269 charge be denied. The 37-year-old consumer was so excited about the money and hopeful about the help she was going to get for her daughter. We hated to dash her hopes, but we would have hated more to see her $269 stolen.

Remember, government grants are not awarded to people who have not applied for them. You cannot get a grant because a friend has applied for you. If you get a call like this, JUST HANG UP! Anytime someone holds out the hope that you are going to receive a large windfall of money, you should beware. When they next ask YOU to give THEM money, you know it is a scam. It is a dead giveaway. Don't be robbed.

ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.