Talk to a friend despite ‘don’t tell’ clause from confidence man in free federal grant

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Barry is the only name Linda Smith knows the man who is bringing her federal grant and accompanying Range Rover.

They talk for hours and hours about how this federal grant is not only going to change her life, but those of the foundation she’s setting up in eastern Idaho. Barry praises her big heart and generosity.

With deepest concern, he also tells her a few upfront processing fees she must be paid to complete the grant.  Total amount about $20,000.  Smith sent it off in a MoneyGram last week.

“He said the fees are for processing,” Smith says. “But, it’ll be worth it when I get the grant.”

Smith has never met Barry face to face. In fact, she’s only really talked to him by TTY – telephone translation services for deaf and hearing-impaired persons. See, Ms. Smith is deaf.

Grants are not easy to come by and there is always an in-depth process that applicants must go through before they are awarded anything. If you didn’t apply for a grant and you receive one of these calls, someone is trying to scam you.

Remember this about “government grants:”

  • Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. 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. Don’t share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
  • Don’t pay any money 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 won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already 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 on the Internet. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is
  • Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the caller says he’s from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that he is. There is no such government agency. Take a moment to check the blue pages in your telephone directory to bear out your hunch — or not.
  • Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
  •  Take control of the calls you receive. If you want to cut the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.
  • File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

1 Comment

Filed under News You Can Trust

One response to “Talk to a friend despite ‘don’t tell’ clause from confidence man in free federal grant

  1. Mark Burrows

    As mentioned. If I applied for a grant and someone mentioned fees, I would always ask, “Fees? What fees? Grants are given, not bought.”
    Doesn’t matter if it is a Government grant or one from a private foundation, they assume all costs up to and including the delivery of the grant. Just because processing fees have become the norm for banking and every business down to your friendly corner convenient store. Scam artists simply assume that you take for granted that fees exists and don’t think about it when they get asked to pay. Yet, seriously? Twenty grand? That would not only send a red flag up the pole but there would be whistles blowing and sirens blaring. How huge was this grant? If a person can come up with $20,000 to pay fees that easily, would not be easier to use that equity against a loan?
    Grants are not an income, they are amounts of money donated to further your education, further your research, further your exploration. Grants are given from benevolence if good faith, they are not loans or investments into your discoveries. It is only out of respect that if you are successful in your journey that to publicly recognize and thank the organization that provided the grant. It bodes well for the image of that organization. If is unfortunate that government grants do not get the accolades as do the private benefactors, because there really is no name or organization within the government that actually takes credit for the given grant. Such departments change constantly.
    As well as Robb Hicken stated, in a round about way, grants are not easy to obtain, you have to actually go looking for them and then jump through multiple hoops to even come close to be considered qualified to earn a grant. It is a straining process. As it should be, if it was easy, then everyone would jump on the bandwagon and grab up a government grant. The same applied to the private organizations, they are more likely to run you the wringer more heavily than the government would. Giving out grants, for private organizations is a tax shell, so that puts them under higher scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service so they are not about to be idle about whether you are worthy or not, they are going to be sure. Because if they give a grant to a fraud, in the eyes of the law, the providing succor to a criminal, and they could consider that grant as money laundering if they really wanted to play dirty.
    Okay, I threw that last little bit in there because that is exactly what went on as one of the great mafia schemes. Setting up legitimate businesses and provided grants to certain college graduates, that flushed it back into the system. Thus, laws had to become more strict and clear definition in it’s wordings. Laws needed to be applied equally to honest people just as well as criminal types so that no one was beyond the law. Well, that was the theory anyway.

    Mark Burrows

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