The Cutting Edge: Beware of Stimulus-Related Scams

Don't get sucked in by con artists with fraudulent claims

 

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“Jessica’s Money Blog” is one example of a Website that touts fraudulent claims about receiving stimulus funds. (Source: Officialstimuluspayments.com)

Waiting for your cut from President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package?

Well, don’t hold your breath.

Since Obama signed the bill into law, sites such as OfficialStimulusPayments.com have been cropping up across the Web promising to expedite your stimulus check from the government.

But, there is no money being given out to individual taxpayers as part of Obama’s package. Instead, these companies are preying on unknowing and desperate individuals bilking them out of as little as $2 and as much as $1,000.

The Federal Trade Commission warned consumers last week that the promise of stimulus money in return for a fee or financial information is always a scam.

Shorty after Obama signed the plan last month, a crop of sites claiming to help consumer access their slice of the pie, sprouted up.

Unlike Bush’s economic stimulus which distributed $300 to $1,200 rebate checks to individuals and families in 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will only funnel funds to state governments. Each state can apply for grant money to rebuild or strengthen its infrastructure. There are also a series of tax cuts for 95% of Americans. But for anyone not closely following Obama’s plan, it’s easy to assume the government will be cutting more checks for Americans.

Here’s how it works: An e-mail, online ad, or Website says you’re eligible to get an economic stimulus payment. You’ll either have to mail back a form or submit one online with your address, phone number, and sometimes credit card information. The message might appear to come from a rebate company or look like it’s straight from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the FTC says.

Other scams tell consumers that “their grant” is available for a small payment by credit card. But here’s the real gotcha! Hidden way down in the fine print of the agreement is your enrollment in a paid program. Consumers can expect to see several hundred or even $1,000 worth of charges on their credit cards. Yikes, talk about a de-stimulus plan.

In an investigation done by PC World, Financial Crisis Grant, one of the suspect companies, billed customers a monthly membership fee of $79.95, indefinitely. Here’s what the Better Business Bureau had to say about companies like Financial Crisis Grant: “In our experience, companies placing government grant ads have no affiliation with the government, but rather, are third parties offering information that can often be obtained for free from government agencies.”

One of the sites I came across, OfficialsStimulusPayments.com, directs users to “Jessica’s Money Blog,” and the first post reads, “How I got a $12,000 Check from the Government to Start My $5,000 a Month Business on Google.”  To receive the money, users must send in $1.99 for a “Free Grant Kit”

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  • william robinson

    And remember the estell richardson murder case bush was at his finest on this check it out check into gus puyer that was his friend dont go for the tortured bush nonsense and what happened to those 93 video tapes of interrogations that came up missin in the cia hands IN THE CIA HANDS okay coincidently the video came up missin in this case and the gaurds got off because of it we need to make a petetion to get it reopened talking about it was a mystery the only mystery is why where three white gaurds and one black gaurd doing in a seg unit with one women and she ends up dead them gaurds are probably trying to play crazy now theres nothing wrong with them trust me they were fine before that lady died and after feel no sorrow for them they felt nnone for her or her family in fact one of the gaurds threw a party after she died i kid you not that was the rumor when you got hookups in the legal system why not

  • william robinson

    You want beleive this but i just at this point had a chance to look over the estell richardsons murder case police report and you want believe this but the guy hawkins who was a witness in the case was involved in a situation where a gaurd named baptist after that lady died and i was in seg he got upset because i was giving a statement to the murder investigation people so he waited until i came back from court and attacked me with leg shackles handcuffs hooked up to a weight belt on i posed him no danger hawkins stood there and watched it infact he was one of the gaurds that brought me back from court thats how he was living white dude not to tall he sorta looks like a white version of my little brother look into it seriously this could get this lady murder solved

  • william robinson

    They probably will destroy the evidence so put him on a lie detector and ask him if he remembers that incident with william c robinson he will break i gaurantee you they are trying to act like they are going to run up on me the police they are monitoring my blogs put them on a lie detector hawkins is a lier put baptist on a lie detector to