KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Scammers are trying to trick Facebook users into believing they are eligible for a free government grant. There is a new social services grant, but it is not aimed at individuals, it is only for local government agencies.
Jay and Cheryl Singleton were sent pictures on Facebook that shows the announcement of the grant two months ago. The scammers “doctored” the pictures hoping to convince unsuspecting victims to send a fee in order to collect thousands of dollars.
It is an old hoax, but con artists are taking advantage of recent events hoping to fool people.
The Singleton couple are like many retirees, they watch their budget carefully and try to be wise with their retirement income.
But last week, Jay Singleton received this picture of “breaking news” on Facebook about a new benefits program.
“The SSB program is ready so you can now start to apply. It shows a picture of President Biden where he signed it,” he said.
The picture and the program are real, but the headline is not. Jay believed the post came from his brother, it did not — it had been cloned. The information included a scale showing the amount of money he has eligible for if he applies.
“You could get money for a grant and not ever have to pay it back. I said, ‘Okay.’ He said, ‘I got $150,000.’ They sent me a check right to my door and I deposited it in the bank,” Jay Singleton said. “Then he said, it only cost me $3,000 to have this check sent to me. I said, ‘Okay, What’s is the $3,000 for?’ He said, ‘It’s for the delivery fee.”
From the beginning, Cheryl Singleton doubted the information.
“I didn’t believe it because it just sounds too good to be true, $150,000, that can’t be right,” she said.
But Jay Singleton decided he’d play along. After all, that headline said he needed to contact Agent Scott. So, he texted saying, he’d like to know how to apply for the grant.
“She responds, ‘Good day my dear winner. My name is Agent Caroline Scott, online claiming agent for social security benefits program.’ She was trying to scam me. That’s all I can say, she was trying to scam me, and I was not going to let that happen,” Jay Singleton said.
Baiting the scammer he asked if the program was real.
“He even told them this is a scam. They came back and said, Yes, there are a lot of scams out there and everything, but this isn’t a scam,'” Cheryl Singleton said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued this alert stating, “The Office of Community Services has received a notable uptick from adults who have been targeted by claims that they won a Social Services Block Grant award, yet must pay a transaction fee to receive the award. The perpetrators of this award scheme misrepresent themselves as agents.”
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The federal government does not provide direct SSBG grants to individuals.
“Don’t fall for it,” Cheryl Singleton said. “If you do, you are going to get scammed.”
“I feel for them if they fall for any type of scam. There are thousands of scams out there. Everything you can possible think of. Oh, this is a good one,” Jay Singleton added.