Don't Fall for this Spoofing Call

Fraud Alert BannerA recent spoofing incident by scammers using the phone number of a Southwest Florida company was successful in obtaining sensitive personal identifying information from possibly hundreds of victim’s by claiming they were eligible for a government grant. The company, whose business has nothing to do with grants, has received more than 766 telephone calls from individuals throughout the United States inquiring why the grant money promised to them was not deposited into their bank accounts. Unfortunately, some callers admitted to sharing their social security number and banking information with the “government grant imposter” in hopes of qualifying for “free” money.


Although at this time it appears there are no local victims, the Lee County Sheriff Office is warning residents to be aware of unsolicited contact from someone offering “money for nothing” grants or Pell grant money in exchange for a small processing fee. These scams can often be presented through ads online, in national magazines, or as in this case, over the phone. 

You can avoid becoming a victim of this scheme by following these basic rules:

·       Do not trust your caller ID. Scammers use internet technology to fool you by creating the name of a familiar government agency and a fraudulent phone number. Although it may look like a trusted source is calling you, it could actually be a con artist trying to rip you off from anywhere in the world. 

·       Never give out your personal identifying information. To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, keep your bank account information, social security number or credit card numbers confidential.

·       Do not pay money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim something that is free, it isn’t really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant you have already been awarded. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is www.grant.gov.

·       Call the Sheriff’s Office fraud line at (239) 258-3292 if you have a received a call offering a government grant and have questions about the legitimacy of the offer.