Scam Alert: Government grant scam picks up across Mid-South

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's an old scam, but crooks are finding new ways to get your attention.

The News Channel 3 Investigators have been getting lots of calls and emails lately about the government grant scam, and so has the Better Business Bureau.

"We have seen more reports in the last couple of months.," Nancy Crawford with the Better Business Bureau said.

In fact, she said the government grant hoax is one of the top four scams reported to its new Scam Tracker tool. Nationwide, WREG found more than 1,300 reports of the scam and dozens here in the Mid-South.

"They're getting phone calls mainly saying that they're eligible for a government grant, it's free money that you don't have to pay back," Crawford said.

Crooks use buzzwords like "Obama" and government agency names to trick consumers.

"All you have to do is send us the taxes and fees and we'll deposit the money," the scam goes.

And these days, the scammers are getting social!

A Memphis resident reported losing $850 just a week ago after someone who was supposedly a Facebook friend mentioned the grant.

One victim sent $500, and another sent money twice.

Of course there's no government grant offering free money.

Ignore such phone calls and watch out for messages and links on Facebook from people you don't know. Their profiles are often sketchy, newly created and with limited photos.

And use Scam Tracker to find out if other residents have been targeted too.

"It's a great tool to use if you get a phone call or an email or a text that you're a little suspicious of," Crawford said.

You can find the Scam Tracker here: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/memphis/