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PHOENIX – A few people have emailed the Let Joe Know team that they have received emails or messages from friends about a government aid program that is supposed to help those financially affected due to of the current pandemic.
It’s real? It’s wrong? How do you know?
Frankie Jo told me that she was contacted by a friend on her Facebook page. This friend wanted her to know about a government grant of freedom.
“She says it’s good for people who need the money to pay bills to buy a house, to do business, to go to school,” said Frankie Jo.
And the friend claims she earned it, allegedly receiving $ 250,000.
“Come on,” Franke Jo said with a smile.
Due to the large sum of money and the fact that the message was from a friend who she rarely speaks to, Franke Jo knew that her friend’s account had been hacked and that it was a scam.
But this is the timing of the message that might make someone believe that this particular grant was legitimate.
The government has been distributing money for more than a year to help people throughout the pandemic, from rent assistance to a business loan, unemployment, pandemic unemployment or a stimulus payment.
Alice emailed me and told me that a man called her about a program. This man claimed that Alice could use the money to pay bills and would never have to pay it back.
But, in order to receive the money, she would have to pay money to cover fees and other costs.
Alice sent the money, but never received the payment the man told her she would receive. It was probably a scam.
Anytime you have to pay money, it is a telltale sign of a scam. And once that money is transferred through an app, a wire transfer, it’s pretty much the same as cash.
Frankie Jo wanted to expose the Facebook scam that had pursued her.
So, during a Zoom interview with her, I called the number she was given.
“Hello, my name is Joe and I’m calling about this ‘Freedom Grant’,” I told the person on the phone.
It was a scam and it played out as scams usually do.
I quickly received a text from a “special agent” working for the government.
“Are you ready to apply for your grant offer now? ” He asked.
The scammer sent me a form asking for my address, driver’s license, monthly income, whether or not I have a vehicle, and other information.
Even after using my business email address from ABC15 and the station address, the scammer got some good news – I qualified.
“You are eligible to receive the grant money. I am so happy for you,” the text said.
There were no taxes. The scam consisted of making me pay a delivery charge, which was $ 1,000 to receive $ 50,000 in return.
For a delivery charge of $ 10,000, I would apparently receive up to $ 1 million.
The scammer said I could pay the fees through Zelle, a popular money transfer app, or Bitcoin. He also provided an email address.
I asked him to talk to me and prove he was real and – to my surprise – he called.
The scammer said he lived in Washington DC, the grant was a real program, and I wouldn’t have to pay back the money.
He wanted me to transfer this money to him. I wanted to call him, so I did.
“I think you’re a fake,” I told him.
He hung up before I had a chance to tell him what I really thought he was doing.
I was able to at least call him a scammer in a text message and he called back four times, greedy for money that he probably cheated so many others with.
I don’t think it will change his behavior, but I hope that showing how these scams work will help more people question these similar offers – and save their hard-earned money.
Often the elderly are the prime targets of these kinds of scams. Tell them about it.
When your Facebook account has been hacked, it is possible that all of your contacts, friends and connections can be accessed by crooks.
Tips to remember:
- Change your password frequently and prevent others from guessing it
- If you have to put money up front this is a huge sign of a scam
- Remember, when you send money through an app, wire transfer, or gift card, it’s like cash and once it’s gone, it’s gone.