When Barbara James answered the phone, she thought she was getting an answer to prayer. She was told the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was awarding her $9,000. It was a nice perk from the U.S. Treasury, Grant Department in Washington, D.C.
A check online shows there is a federal reserve bank in New York, but the rest of it was all false.
Barbara says, "I felt like a breakthrough had came through and I really didn't care how it came through, I just wanted it."
Barbara was first instructed to pay back taxes, which she did using iphone gift cards. Once she loaded them with cash, and gave them the numbers on the back, she was given another excuse for sending even more money. $900 later, she realized she had to stop.
Barbara warns, “Don't let it slip you by because I promise you it ain't real."
I contacted the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a spokeswoman told me this scam's been going around since April. They want everyone to know they don't keep grant money or any other type of funds or accounts for people. They also never ever call or email people out of the blue, asking for money or personal information.
Besides Barbara, another woman named Kathleen was told she was getting a $100,000 federal government/United Nations grant. A man claiming to be Agent Sean Alexander even shared a Facebook page with her, and asked her to wire three separate payments, costing her $350 before she realized it, too was all a lie. Both women say they've learned a painful lesson and they want to keep you from making the same mistake.
The best place to learn about federal grants is at grants dot gov. Most of those grants require you to fill out paperwork and be vetted, before any money is ever awarded.