Please note: email messages are not secure. Please refrain from entering personal, confidential information in the message, such as your social security or account numbers. Thank you.
We have received recent reports of a rise in “Governement Grant” scams on Facebook where consumers are being tricked into sending money to new or current friends of Facebook in order to collect a large government grant.
The scam begins when a Facebook user receives a new friend request along with a message, or a message from a current friend whose Facebook account has been compromised. The message informs the user that they are entitled to free grant money from the government. Often, the message will list other Facebook users who have successfully received money, to help convince the consumer the offer is legitimate. The message usually includes a link to a law office or fake government website that instructs the user to pay a fee up front to get access to the grant.
Please be aware that government agencies do not approach consumers with grant information via Facebook and do not require fees or payments to access legitimate grant programs.
The following advice from the Better Business Bureau offers ways on how to avoid falling victim to this scam and others:
Do not give out your bank account or online banking credentials to strangers. Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Never give this information out in a Facebook message.
Do not pay for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it isn’t really free. A real government agency would not ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you’ve been awarded — or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or online. The only official access point for federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov.
Be careful with friend requests from strangers. Try to keep your social networking friends to people you have a real-world connection to. If it appears the request is from a business contact or friend of a friend, send them a message after accepting to see who they really are. If they don’t seem real or connected to your life, un-friend them.
Don’t blindly trust your current Facebook friends. You may receive a message from someone you have known all your life. That doesn’t mean you must trust them inexplicitly. If the message seems out-of-character, their account may have been hacked or cloned. Contact them offline and let them know.
If you suspect that your Merrimack accounts have been compromised from this or any other type of fraud, please contact us as soon as possible.