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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2017 > Ohioans Report Grant Scam Phone Calls

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Ohioans Report Grant Scam Phone Calls

Consumers across Ohio are reporting scam phone calls about phony grants, especially by con artists pretending to work for government agencies.

In 2017, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received approximately 400 reports of suspected grant scams. Additionally, more than 50 consumers have reported losing $200 to $48,000 to the ploy.

In a typical grant scam, consumers receive a call saying they have won a federal grant of $7,000 to $10,000. In order to receive the grant, they must first send a few hundred dollars to cover taxes, insurance, or other costs. Money must be sent via wire transfer or a prepaid money card. In reality, there is no grant; the call came from a con artist.
At the national level, the Federal Trade Commission reports that con artists impersonating the National Institutes of Health claim there are $14,000 grants available for consumers who pay a fee through a money card, iTunes gift card, or by submitting their bank account number. In reality, as the FTC explains, the federal government will not call you to give you a grant. NIH does grant money to researchers, but they must request the funding and use it for the public’s benefit.
Consumers who send money once will often be contacted again, with the scam artist claiming that the consumer needs to send more money for additional costs. The scammer will likely continue calling as long as the consumer keeps sending money.

Scam artists may give the following phony justifications as to why a consumer has been selected for the grant:
  • “You deserve it.”
  • “You’re a good citizen.”
  • “You haven’t had any recent arrests.”
  • “You’re current on your taxes.”
  • “You have good credit.”
To protect yourself from grant scams, never make an upfront payment in order to receive a grant. Be especially cautious any time payment is requested via wire transfer, money order, or gift card. Also keep in mind that true government grants typically are awarded to organizations, not to individual citizens, and information about legitimate federal grants is available for free at

Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.