Attorney General issues grant scam warning
Grant scams have become commonplace, according to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office. A scam can happen when a business is contacted with promises of federal or corporate money if the business pays the caller to write a grant request for submission.
The scams usually operate out of telemarketing boiler rooms with calls directed at small businesses. The telemarketer claims the small business qualifies for a large amount of grant money and the business will receive the grant in a few days. All the business needs to do is to pay the grant writer anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000 to receive the grant.
Sometimes the grant writer tells the victim to incorporate as a “non-profit” corporation in Nevada in order to receive the grant. That incorporation is an extra fee. The corporation may be set up, but no grant is ever received and the grant writer suddenly stops taking telephone calls. Eventually the grant writer “disappears” only to show up using another name.
No such grants are available to most small businesses, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Setting up the “non-profit” corporation is also a con, since the purpose is to create the false illusion that the small business is a charity. This ploy also provides a cover for the con men who can later claim that work was performed by the grant writer even though it is unnecessary and misleading.
No one can “guarantee” that any applicant will received a grant upon application. Grants are difficult to obtain in the best of circumstances and the application process usually takes a considerable amount of time and reporting. Government grants are usually aimed at the needy, educational institutions, or specialists who can provide assistance to the government. A list of information about government grants and how to apply can be found at http://www.grants.gov, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Private grants are almost specifically directed at charitable, educational or scientific research organizations and, with the exception of scholarship funds, are not generally available to the public at large.
Whenever paying anyone for information or services relating to public or private grant assistance, always research the company. Such companies almost never telemarket, send unsolicited fax advertisements, nor advertise by bulk mail to the general public. If the service has an Internet website, check out the domain registration at http://www.whois.net. If the website is registered to a “proxy” address, question why the company does not wish to disclose its identity. Check the company out at the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org. Check to see if the company provides a local telephone number, not just a toll-free number. Scammers specifically use toll-free numbers to hide their true identity and location. In all cases, ask for copies of their business license, a list of their grant writers, a list of their past successful grant applications and the names of the agency or organization who provided the grant and a list of references.
For further information, call the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in Las Vegas at 702-486-3420, or in Carson City at 775-684-1180.
Consumer protection information can also be found on the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.ag.state.nv.us, the Nevada Fight Fraud website at http://www.fightfraud.gov and at the Federal Trade Commission website at http://www.ftc.gov.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.