Government Grants -- A Scam?
February 15, 2006 4:42 PM   Subscribe

American Grant Program Foundation? I was contacted two evenings in a row by a company claiming that the government owed me thousands of dollars since I "paid my taxes on time every year".

The whole thing sounds really shady...they kept asking for my bank account information. The person on the phone identified herself as "Sarah Williams" and gave me her ID number: GAP0075. She then proceeded to tell me my own address and ask that I give her my bank account information to "confirm that the information she had was correct". When I told her to just tell me the information she had and I would tell her if it was correct, she evaded and made up excuses.

Is this a scam? I googled with no luck.
posted by lohmannn to Law & Government (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes. Yes, it is a scam. Not much else to say.
posted by Justinian at 4:46 PM on February 15, 2006

Well, okay, I'll be more specific; if you had given her your bank account information, your bank account would promptly have been emptied. So good on you for refusing to take the bait.
posted by Justinian at 4:46 PM on February 15, 2006

Almost certainly a scam. Contact your state attorney general's office, probably someone in consumer affairs.
posted by Good Brain at 4:47 PM on February 15, 2006

Oh hell no.

Any legitimate company will never ask you to provide your bank account information unless YOU are contacting them to set up a service (like automatic bill pay, for example).

Not to mention which, millions of people pay their taxes on time every year. The government isn't just going to hand you thousands of dollars for doing what you're legally obligated to do, the only reward for paying taxes on time is not having to pay penalties and interest.
posted by Meredith at 4:48 PM on February 15, 2006

A stranger calls you on the phone on the pretext that you're owed a lot of money you're not expecting ("for paying your taxes on time every year"), asks for your bank account information, and you're wondering whether it's a scam?

Um, it's *definitely* a scam. The reward you get for paying your taxes on time every year is the avoidance of penalties and interest (and maybe jail time if you piss the wrong people off.)

Plenty of good resources on the net on telephone scams, including:
posted by enrevanche at 4:50 PM on February 15, 2006

Agreed -- an account verification/phishing scam.
posted by ericb at 4:51 PM on February 15, 2006

S-K-A-M! But at least you can have some fun with it if they call again. Get ahold of your state's attorney office and see what they recommend. Even better if you have the caller ID on.
posted by klangklangston at 4:56 PM on February 15, 2006

This actually might be legit. Give me your credit card numbers and expiration dates so I can do a little more research on the American Grant Program Foundation. We'll get to the bottom of this!
posted by spork at 5:04 PM on February 15, 2006

My mother has been getting calls like this in the past couple of days as well. Perhaps scammers are stepping up their efforts nationwide...
posted by Crushinator at 5:25 PM on February 15, 2006

haha spork. yeah i figured it was a scam. it was really strange tho. i kept saying "i'm not comfortable giving out my bank account info over the phone" to which she would reply "but anyone can get your bank account info by looking at a check". she just kept repeating that.

how can i get this information out so other people aren't fooled? she was quite convincing, and i can easily see how someone might be tricked into giving out their info.
posted by lohmannn at 5:34 PM on February 15, 2006

oh, and i have logged on my cell phone the two numbers they called from:

800 865 2349
800 863 4953
posted by lohmannn at 5:36 PM on February 15, 2006

oh, and i have logged on my cell phone the two numbers they called from

Sheesh -- phishing phone calls on your mobile phone!
posted by ericb at 5:50 PM on February 15, 2006

As has been mentioned, you should contact the attorney-general's office in your state (e.g. in Massachusetts they have ways to contact them to report "phishing scams"), as well as the Federal Trade Commission by way of their Online Complaint Input Form.
posted by ericb at 5:55 PM on February 15, 2006

While these forms are for reporting actual theft, you should fill them out, ommitting a claim, but providing relevant information/explanation in the open-text fields. As well, you may wish to just call the FTC directly at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) and ask to speak with someone in their consumer fraud department. Same goes for your ATG's office.
posted by ericb at 6:01 PM on February 15, 2006

Definitely some kind of bizarre scam.

Google says this is the first number

second number doesn't return anything.
posted by evariste at 7:27 PM on February 15, 2006

I googled those #'s and got this page and this page, they are on a numerical list if you scroll down. I'm not sure, but I don't think those numbers are where they dialed from.
posted by 445supermag at 7:34 PM on February 15, 2006

i just called the second number and got a voicemail with the voice of the lady who i talked to.
posted by lohmannn at 7:57 PM on February 15, 2006

Perhaps scammers are stepping up their efforts nationwide...

Right around tax return time, maybe? Probably just their usual yearly fund raising drive.

Try calling the numbers from a payphone during buisness hours, see who answers and hang up.
This might be an employee somewhere putting in 'overtime'. Try chatting up whoever answers for more details on location and then report to the FTC, prefferably with a tape of the scammer calling you.
posted by IronLizard at 8:04 PM on February 15, 2006

Oooh. What if we all started calling 800 863 4953 and asking for Sarah Williams?
posted by Alt F4 at 6:08 AM on February 16, 2006

Scam for sure. It will show up on the net soon.
posted by orlin at 6:58 AM on February 16, 2006

Contact the Secret Service.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:09 AM on February 16, 2006

Absolutely a scam. Good for you for not falling for it.
posted by raedyn at 11:15 AM on February 16, 2006

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