The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line received a call this week from a 19 year old college student who reported being scammed out of nearly $1,000 in what she thought was an opportunity to receive funding to help pay for her education. The victim applied on-line through several websites for financial assistance and within a matter of days received a call from a man who identified himself as “Mr. Green”, congratulating her for qualifying for financial aid. “Mr. Green” told the victim that all she had to do to receive the grant valued at several thousand dollars was make a donation to a charity for sick children. Over the course of several days, the victim wired several hundred dollars via Western Union to Nepal, along with placing several hundred dollars on a “Green Dot” card accessed by the scammer.
Becoming a victim of scams like this one can be avoided if you watch out for the following:
• If someone tells you they will need money up front before they can offer you any information or assistance.
• Promises or guarantees that you’ll get the grant in the amount you want while offering prizes to divert your attention away from the “red flags”.
• Requires your credit card number, social security number, or bank account number to get you started.
• Requires you to make a decision quickly because your opportunity is about to expire or be offered to someone else.
• Offers to send “free grant money” in the mail with instructions to deposit the check and wire money to pay for processing fees. Most legitimate forms of grant money are sent directly to universities, not to students or parents of future and current college students.
An education beyond high school is a costly investment and the process to pay for college can often be overwhelming for both parents and students. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, administers the federal student financial aid—grants, loans, and work-study programs—available for education beyond high school. Federal Student Aid interacts with postsecondary schools, financial institutions and other participants in the student aid programs to deliver services that help students and families plan and pay for college. To learn more about Federal Student Aid and how to pay for college, visit www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.
If you have questions about Identity Theft or if you have received a fraudulent phone call, email or letter and would like to report it, please contact the Fraud Line at 239-477-1242.