FLORIDA KEYS, June 18, 2020 – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued a new consumer alert to warn Floridians about a new scam targeting seniors with offers of fake COVID-19 grants.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office is receiving reports from seniors offered thousands of dollars in federal grant money to stay isolated at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Scammers are contacting seniors via Facebook Messenger, email and text message to offer these sham grants and request upfront payment as insurance for the expedited delivery of grant money.
Moody said scammers are hacking Facebook accounts to send messages to targets from a friend’s profile—creating the illusion that the grant program is being promoted by an acquaintance. Once contact is made, the scammers request personal information, bank account numbers and insurance payments purportedly to help ensure the safe delivery of thousands of dollars in federal grant money, and of course, the money is never sent.
The scheme involved a mock website, since shut down, purporting to be hosted by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The site included videos of seniors endorsing the sham grant program. Anyone who provided information and payments after visiting the site should contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
The federal government is not contacting seniors and offering them grants to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Requests for upfront payments of any kind, including through gift cards, money orders, wire transfers, bitcoin or insurance fees in exchange for a grant, loan or government benefit are red flags of a scam.
Never click on links sent in unsolicited messages. These links could contain malware or connect the target to a website set up to obtain personal or financial information for nefarious purposes.
To report any COVID-19 related fraud, contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM.