Kinston woman becomes victim of federal grant phone scam

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — “Cannot reach you. Please call me urgently,” was the message that lured a Kinston woman into attempting to receive $9,000 they said she “deserved”.

“She said it was something I didn’t have to earn,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be identified. “But something that was already rewarded to me.”

“You can retrieve it right now and you can have $9,000 within 10 to 15 minutes,” is what they told her.

The Kinston woman received a call stating that because of her clean record, she was being given a federal grant.

“She had started the conversation saying she was Amber Smith of Bank of America, and they were with the Better Business Bureau.”

And all she had to do was follow a few simple steps – “He said I want you to purchase two cards, put $100 on each card.”

“You can’t get the $9,000 until you pay the registration fee of $200,” the scammer told her.

So she followed through, bought two iTunes gift cards, read the code to the scammer and heard this:

“He said what you need to do now is pay an additional $700. You can’t get your grant until you pay the $700”. And she said, “I want my $200 back”.

And just like that, she lost her $200 and the idea of being given $9,000. The Better Business Bureau warns this has been circulating through our area.

“If you’re ever asked to wire money or pay for something like this via gift card that’s a huge red flag,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau. “That money is untraceable which is why a scammer is asking you to pay that way.”

Ironically, at the same time I was interviewing the Kinston woman, my photographer got a phone call from a scanner, “A personal loan sir, you have been qualified for a personal loan. Do you have a banking account?”

Following the BBB’s advice, my photographer hung up the phone and didn’t feed into their scam.

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