Facebook – Internet Scam! Free Grant Money – Yea Right! Scam Alert by Chuck Gallagher Fraud Prevention Speaker

February 26, 2009

Now…don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Facebook and social media / networking.  I may be 51, but I am learning quickly the benefits of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  But with every great tool comes someone who will use it for – well lets say – not so noble uses. As a fraud prevention speaker, I am alert to things that – well, just don’t smell right.

In Facebook on the right side of your home page or profile are those pesky little ads that help make Facebook run and make it free to use.  Rarely – if ever do I click on them.  Mostly cause I’m not interested and secondly, I don’t want to get sucked into something I don’t want, don’t need or don’t understand.

But, I’ve got to be honest.  For weeks now I’ve been seeing this ad – over and over again – touting getting your stimulus check.  Now, I’m smart enough to know that there is NO Twelve Thousand Dollar stimulus check coming to ole Chuck!  Yet, I’ve been tempted to click on the ad and just see what it is all about.  Several times I dragged my cursor over the ad and stated to click.  I didn’t!

Today, however, I notice a great article written by Chadwick Matlin and posted on MSNBC.  The full article can be found here.

The article begins as follows:

Meet Kevin Hoeffer. Kevin is an altruistic man who just received $12,759.62 from the federal government. He wants all of the readers of his blog to be able to do the same. So he points the way to a free grant kit (plus $1.99 shipping and handling) to use to apply for a government handout. Once you do that, you’ll get your $12,000. It’s that simple. He even provides a copy of his official Treasury grant check to prove its legitimacy.

grant-check2-kevinhoeffercopyhmediumNow it is clear from the photo from the article that what is represented sure looks real.  But, that’s all part of the fraud.  When a person is scammed three things generally take place and the photo above shows the simplicity of creating the second part of the three part scam – ILLUSION.

I was contacted by an organization asking about legislation to protect people (especially Senior Citizens) against fraud – like what Bernie Madoff pulled off.  I responded in a way that I suspect they didn’t like.  You cannot legislate out fraud.  There has and will always be those who would take advantage of others.  That, unfortunately, is the nature of some people.  Likewise, there will always be some people who want to believe (in the tooth fairy) that something can be had for nothing – that they will fall for even the dumbest of scams.


Per Mr. Matlin in his article:

These people are the faces of a new, pervasive scam that’s piggybacking on Washington’s stimulus agenda. All of the blogs tell you to use the free software to get the $12,000 grants. To order that software, the blogs link off-site to a variety of Web sites filled with testimonials about how great their free grant-finding software is. What they don’t say is that if you fail to cancel your subscription — a subscription the sites don’t reveal exists outside — they’ll charge your credit card until you discover their scheme and tell them to stop. (The going rate seems to be $50-$70.) It’s a devious system whose ads are proliferating across the Internet and has embarrassed Facebook into pulling them down. A close read of the scams’ semiotics offers an insight not just to our weakness for get-rich-quick schemes, but also our current economic moment.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE:stimuli-adsstandard

Not everyone is subject to a big case of the dummies.  Many folks complained and Facebook figured that the revenue wasn’t worth ticking off the Facebook community so they pulled the ads.  By the way the Ads look like this.  I have taken the time to show them here so that if you see them you’ll know exactly what a scam looks like.


Being defrauded is easy.  The fraudster just sucks you into the PIT.  Now for those of you who follow my blog, I have reported on this before in entries related to Bernie Madoff.  But if you have not read those let me help you with understanding the PIT.

The first part of most any financial fraud starts with the PROMISE ( P ).  In the case of this scam the promise is a big fat $12,000 from the government.  Why?  Well, of course newly elected President Obama wants you to have it.  It is part of the big ole stimulus package – RIGHT!

So POINT OF ADVICE:  If you wish to avoid being scammed, understand – if it sounds to good to be true – it LIKELY ISN’T TRUE!

The second part of the fraud triangle is the ILLUSION ( I ).  That is obvious as well…you get to see a pretty picture of a (what must be real) check from the government!

A great ILLUSIONIST should be able to fool you.  But with electronics these days you can make any thing any way you want it.  Remember the movie – “CATCH ME IF YOU CAN” – what if he’d had photoshop?

That leads to the third and final component of fraud – TRUST ( T ).  In order to effectively pull a fraud off, someone has to trust the fraudster.  Now, having been a fraudster (not something I am proud of), I understand the mentality.  It is much easier to defraud someone who is close to you and trusts you than it is to defraud a stranger.  But if the need is great enough – like the failing economic situation we’re in now – and the population of folks to defraud is large enough – well even a blind squirrel can find an acorn.


Don’t believe everything you hear.  Don’t believe everything you see.  Don’t trust everyone who wishes to take or (invest) your money.  Use common sense and you’ll avoid the need for an attorney to help you get out of the scam mess that can ensnare folks.