Another gov't-related scam making rounds

August 10, 2011 3:39:26 PM PDT
When times get tough, people get desperate and the scams usually follow. That may be the case with an offer of free government money now going around the country.

Some folks here in Houston say they have gotten calls that promise big money if you follow some simple rules, but watch out. The promise of free money from the government is nothing new, but that too-good-to-be-true deal is making the rounds again.

Joan Weatherspoon clips coupons and saves money where she can, but a recent phone caller promised Weatherspoon thousands of dollar in free money.

"Told me he was Sam Johnson and he was with the U.S. Government Grant Department and he had $6,000 for me," Weatherspoon said.

Weatherspoon says the caller seemed official, even giving her a confirmation number.

"All I had to do was give him my account number, either bank account or credit card account, and he would arrange for the $6,000 to be placed in my account," she said.

Weatherspoon does not have a bank account and no credit card, so the caller asked Weatherspoon to use Western Union.

"'All you have to do is take $150 to the Western Union office and call me from there and I will give you the confirmation number over the phone' and I told, 'Well I do not have $150,'" she said.

Weatherspoon did not go through with the wire transfer. It turns out the same promise of $6,000 in government money is being made to people across the country, according to the Houston Better Business Bureau.

"We all know those kinds of calls don't ever come from the government, it was basically a scam; they wanted her personal information, her financial information so they can access her bank account," said Monica Russo with the Houston BBB.

Russo says she is not surprised by the resurgence of the government grant scam because so many people are out of work and in need.

"People are desperate and when they are presented with an opportunity like this, it is easy for them to believe it," she said.

Any time someone asks you for your account information so they can put money into your bank account, that is a big red flag because with that information your account can also be drained.

Also, any time to send money western union to a stranger, you have no way to get it back.

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