Viewers reach out to help disabled diabetic scam victim after scam


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Many East Tennesseans were touched by the story of a disabled woman we reported last month.

She was eligible for money due to her disability, and Gail Madden fell for a government grant scam.

Lots of viewers reaching out to WATE saying they wanted to help her out.

So far, close to $1,000 has been donated.

Gail Madden has a tidy apartment in a low-income housing community. She’s a grandmother but lives alone.

With a tight fixed budget and income, she was able to manage her finances from month to month; until she admittedly made a mistake believing she was going to get money from a government grant.

The other day, Gail Madden checked her monthly bills from several cash advance stores she did business with at the end of last year.

While her debt is still overwhelming, considering her income, there is hope now for Gail who is a double amputee.

Believing she was eligible for a huge Community Block Grant (a text message that turned out to be a scam), Madden took out loans to pay fees for the grant.

The smallest loan for $200 has a 280-annual-percentage rate.

Last month she had enough money out of her $1,100 disability check to pay for medication, but not enough for her rent.

One viewer who saw her story two weeks ago paid Madden’s January rent, along with other people’s help as well.

“Another guy sent me a check to help me out. Another person came by the house to help me out. Then another person sent me a check to contribute to my rent for next month.”

Gail Madden

As she told us last month, Madden had both legs amputated six years ago to control her severe diabetes. She depends on insulin twice a day. Because her disability check doesn’t go far, she jumped at the chance of believing she was getting money from the government, but it was all a scam.

Madden was told she qualifies for a windfall because of her disability and low income.

There are Community Development Grants, but they’re not for individuals.

Unaware of the hoax, Madden borrowed $2,200 to purchase gift cards and sent the numbers to the scammer, which is a big red flag.

“Since we spoke last, I did file a report with the Clinton City Police Department and filed a report with them.”

Gail Madden

Madden’s circumstances touched many viewers; a note was sent with cash inside the envelope, which WATE delivered.

It was a $200 donation by an anonymous friend, enough to pay off one of the loans.

“Thank you very much for helping me. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Gail Madden

Another anonymous friend sent $500 with a note saying, “You’re not alone.”

“I really do appreciate this.”

Gail Madden

With that money, she plans to repay one of the larger loans.

“I was wondering how I was going to get this all paid back.”

Gail Madden

A friend has also started a GoFundMe page for Gail. Slowly and surely is how she plans to dig her way out of debt.

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that “Money For Nothing” grant offers are usually scams.

The FTC says it’s sometimes an ad or a text message that claims you qualify to receive a free grant to pay for education costs, home repairs, or unpaid bills.

These messages are targeted at people like Gail, those who can least afford to lose money.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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