Internet scammers have found a new scheme: the promise of stimulus dollars. If such an offer shows up in your inbox, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has some advice: hit delete.
Bronson is warning Floridians not to fall for scams involving federal government stimulus dollars. He says "numerous scams are surfacing, some attempting identity theft and others seeking an "advance fee" payment.
One email claims "Congratulations! You've been selected to receive a FREE Stimulus Check in the amount of $613.27!" Recipients are asked to provide their bank account numbers and other personal information so the money can be deposited into their accounts; but, instead, con artists drain their accounts or steal their identities, Bronson said. In some cases consumers are told they must pay an advance fee for a grant or that they can obtain a list of economic stimulus grants for a fee. The email requires the consumer to send a cashier's check or requests the consumer's credit card information.
"It's clear that criminals are preying on the public's desperation and using the stimulus plan to con people out of their hard-earned money," Bronson said. "They should just delete these emails as quickly as possible and understand that the federal government is not providing stimulus money over the Internet."
Bronson points out that the government does not charge people to apply for grants and that information about grant programs is provided for free.
Anyone who thinks they may have already been victimized should report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Complaints can be filed in English and Spanish online at http://www.FTC.gov or by calling 1-877-382-4357.