GREENSBORO, N.C. - When the phone rings and someone offers you free money, you should be suspicious. But what if they said they were from the US government? And they just wanted to return some of your tax dollars. Money you already paid them. It could Sound a little more on the up and up.
But it's just the latest scheme. 2 Wants to Know's Ben Briscoe learned this first hand as he got the call. Here's what Ben has to say about how it worked:
The caller starts off by telling me the government collected too much in taxes and is giving money back. In my case about $9,200.
The caller tells me I'd get the money as a grant. It's mine to use on home improvement projects, more education or investing in a small business. But he adds the grants can't be used for tobacco or illegal activity - and I'll have to show my receipts to the government for proof. Experts say That kind of detail is designed to make you think it's real.
Then the caller really laid it on thick, telling me I was chosen for this grant because I was a "good person" with no criminal charges or bankruptcy in the last 10 years.
But then I started asking one simple question: How do I get my money? The caller never answers the questions and eventually hangs up.
The Federal Trade Commission warns the callers will eventually "ask for your checking account information" to deposit your grant. But "They will disappear with your money" and "You'll never see the grant."
The Better Business Bureau is also now posting a national warning
"It's like buying a lottery ticket. Before the numbers are drawn, what do you think of? All the ways you can spend the money have a different kind of lifestyle. I think a lot of times what people do in these kinds of cases is see the optimistic perspective," said the BBB's Brian Write.
I'm not the only one receiving this call in the Triad. A viewer e-mailed that she had a similar conversation. So how do you protect yourself? The FTC says:
Don't give out your bank account information to anyone you don't know.
Don't trust your caller id - schemers could make it look like they are calling from the government.
And finally file a complaint with the FTC to help jump start investigations and shut down schemes like this.
You can file that complaint by calling 1-877-382-4357 or visiting the