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Monday, Sep. 26, 2016

Watch out for stimulus scams

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Congratulations, you are prequalified for government grant money! Money for home, medical, business and school. Apply and get your money, get your free grant C.D., get funding to change your life.

"And, because it is grant money -- it never has to be paid back." Just search the Internet for government grants or stimulus money and look at all of the Web sites dedicated to "helping you get some of the billions of dollars that go unclaimed each year."

Unfortunately most of these Web sites are scams. The people conducting the scams are setting up phony Web sites like, GrantUniversity.com or PresidentObamaGrants.com.

"They're advertising them on search engines like Google and on social networks like Facebook," Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America said in an interview with MSNBC. "They are also promoting them in chat rooms."

Anyone who is not familiar with the grant writing process could easily be wooed by these promises and promotions. But, in reality the government does not set aside money to just hand out to individuals through grants.

President Barack Obama's stimulus package, along with the failing economy, gave these scam artists an open invitation to persuade people that there is money available.

"There is no money in the Stimulus Package to send out individual checks to people," Eileen Harringten, acting director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection said in the same MSNBC article.

Most of the different sites promise similar things. GrantUniversity.com, for example, promises pre-approval for grants. There are pictures of happy families and individuals with testimonies next to them saying things like, "In about two weeks I received a check in my hand for $100,000."

They even go so far as to set up Web sites claiming to have researched and found which sites are scams and which are reliable. But, "Dave" who did this research doesn't bother to leave any contact information, and when looked into farther, all of the sites listed are scams.

In contacting the company by their 800 number, a representative said, "I think people just misread the terms and conditions on the Web site."

But after reading the "terms and conditions" who could understand them? They clearly contradict themselves repeatedly. Here are just a few excerpts from the very long terms and conditions on this particular Web site.

"After your initial 7-day risk-free trial, your subscription to TheGrantProfessor.net will automatically renew for a cost of sixty-nine dollars and ninety five cents (they spell out the amount camouflaging it at a glimpse) for continued access. You may cancel anytime to discontinue service. Billing for continued access to our Online Resource Center will remain at sixty-nine dollars and ninety five cents to be charged once monthly. To cancel service for any reason please contact us at 1-877-207-1615 or e-mail us at support@thegrantuniversity.com.\"

Seems pretty straight forward right? But, several paragraphs later it states, "To cancel the 7-Day FREE trial Grant Solutions LLC will need to receive in writing, before midnight of the 7th day requesting to cancel. The request must include the following information to be canceled: First name, last name, shipping address, city, state, zip code, phone number, e-mail address, date of purchase, type of payment used, last 4 digits of the credit card number used."

It also states, "Our purpose is to provide education and information about grants from public and private sectors for all entities and individuals wishing to apply for such grant funding and to educate such grant applicants through its publications, which are accessible and available for purchase solely from TheGrantProfessor.com and/or TheGrantProfessor.net web-site.

"Grant Solutions LLC makes no guarantee that you will receive a grant from any of the organizations listed in our directories.

Our information, grant specialists and other staff make every effort to prepare you to make the best possible match and application for your grant purpose, but there is no guarantee of receiving any funds.

Grant Solutions LLC does not directly issue grants and provides information for solely educational purposes.

Grant Solutions LLC shall not be responsible for any inaccuracies or typographical errors, and does not make any representation about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of either our Web site or the material contained on it."

The Better Business Bureau has been flooded with complaints abut companies such as this one. Furthermore, when one site is called out on their scam they shut down and open under another name.

When signing up for anything it is recommended to always read the fine print. The extra time it takes to read things like terms and conditions is much less expensive than the unexpected credit card charges that often accompany offers like these.

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