Maine Officials Warn of New Scam

Jul 16, 2014

David Leach with the state Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection says his department is hearing about a new scam involving government grants.

It starts with a caller who, Leach says, tells the person answering the phone, "'Hey, you know, we have selected you, because you're a good taxpayer, to receive a $7,000 government grant.' And, of course, the consumer is initially very excited. 'And you can use the money for anything you want, with the exception of lottery tickets and liquor.'"

That last piece, Leach says is "kind of funny." But what comes next is not so funny. The caller asks the recipient to wire several hundred dollars to cover administrative expenses. That, Leach says, is something the government would never do. Leach also points out this is also a way for the scammers to get consumers' dates of birth, bank account numbers, and other information that can be used in identity theft.

The state's Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection says people should never send money to unknown telephone solicitors. If a caller says they are from a federal agency, they should ask for the exact name of the agency, a physical address and a supervisor's direct dial number. And, it says consumers should report any suspicious activity involving government grant scams to the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529.