Government grant scammer posing as U.S. Senator
BALTIMORE — The government provided assistance to many Americans during the pandemic but be skeptical of any offers for free money through federal grants.
A Maryland woman received a Facebook message from an old high school friend about a grant she was recently awarded. That convinced her to apply.
She contacted the man her friend had been in contact with. He provided an official looking badge and long description about the grant process. He said it wasn’t a loan. She wouldn’t have to pay anything back. This was a grant from the Trusts Community Foundation Fund, and if approved, she can use it on whatever she’d like.
She believed that her friend benefitted from it, so she filled out the application answering questions like next of kin, phone carrier, bank account balance, IRA balance, and how she wanted to receive payment.
After sending a copy of her driver’s license, she was approved. She could choose how much grant money she’d like, up to $5 million. And she’d only be responsible for a shipping fee, which was a fraction of the grant amount.
She asked if she could pay by credit card, the man claiming to be Dick Durbin, the Senior Senator from Illinois responded, “definitely not.”
She became more skeptical and the scammer became more desperate. Then she shut him down.
“Anything that requires you to send money before you receive money, yah, that’s a delete,” said Bill Sieglein, a cybersecurity expert and former U.S. intelligence official.
Sieglein said his…