Don't be caught by government-funded scams

You may have heard of a phone scam, some of whom pretend to be an agent of the IRS, trying to scare you and let you pay a fake tax bill. But there is another scam that takes a less threatening approach: the caller gives you free government funding.

Of course, you have to pay a fee to get the money.

This is called a government subsidy scam. This is part of a larger category of so-called imposters. In this scam, a person pretends to be an authoritative person in order to get a person's money.

“Everyone is a potential target,” said Kristen Todaro, a lawyer in the marketing department of the US Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection Agency. In 2016, impersonation fraud complaints exceeded the identity theft complaint in the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network Data Sheet. This is because complaints about government imposters are increasing.

It is tempting to believe those who want to give you money but are not fooled. The following are expectations of the liar.

Unfamiliar caller with a gift

The victims of these scammers reported that the phone numbers they received were not known to them, and sometimes the area code of Washington, DC. The other person pretends to be a government official, usually from a forged institution, and says consumers are eligible for government subsidies. The amount is usually between $8,000 and $11,000.

An imposter may say that the reward is as a good citizen – a person who pays taxes and has no criminal record. Potential victims are often asked to verify their name, place of residence, employer and bank location. Sometimes, the caller will give the consumer another phone number and give the other party a code to "verify" their information before the scammer deposits.

But the caller will not send a check or cash. Instead, the scammer asks for bank account information so that money can be delivered immediately. Trap: There is also a processing fee of approximately $250, which must be paid immediately.

The caller tells the consumer to go to the nearest pharmacy to buy a payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or even an iTunes gift card. The unsuspecting victim then provides the scammer with the numbers on the cards so that the thief can redeem the numbers. Alternatively, the scammer can request Western Union remittances.

At this point, the victim’s money and information are in the hands of the criminal.

Message from Facebook "friends"

According to a warning issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in March 2017, another scam was targeted at small business owners via Facebook. In this trick, imposters falsify information about friends or family members and send information to potential victims via social networks.

The liar tells the business owner that he or she is eligible for commercial funding from the government. The "friend" then asks the potential victim to send a text message to the "government" phone number to accept the funds, or send the funds to another Facebook profile to allow someone to impersonate a government official. The scammer can also ask for the person's phone number, and it is said that the government official can contact him or her. With this information, imposters can now directly call and use scripts similar to the scams described above.

How to avoid subsidy fraud

Don't fall in love with fake numbers or friends. It's easy to create deceptive phone numbers and Facebook profiles. Don't let a Washington DC area code or a familiar name and face win your trust on social media. Pay close attention to what is actually provided and what you are asking for in return.

Watch out for phone calls and Facebook messages. The US government will never provide you with a phone or social network, and will never apply. Todaro said: "If the only way to communicate with someone who provides funding is through social media or text, it is a dangerous signal."

Do not pay with a gift card, debit card or anything. You never need to pay for government assistance with a gift card or a prepaid debit card. It is illegal to apply for federal funding to request payment.

Check the name of this institution. There are no institutions like the Federal Grants Management or the Federal Appropriations Department. The US Department of Health and Human Services says all grants need to be requested through government websites such as