Scammed out of $18K on Facebook: Your Stories

(WSYR-TV) - A scam called the "Facebook Grant Scam" is sweeping across Messenger inboxes for users all over the country.

More than 1,900 grant scams have been reported with the losses totaling nearly $300,000, according to the Better Business Bureau. Of those scams, 326 of them were specifically Facebook grant scams.

While most people are on Facebook to communicate with friends -- scammers are logging on and pretending to be one of those friends and recommending a way to get big money from the government.

A Jefferson County woman received one of these messages not too long ago. Marjorie Patterson says she thought it was a message from a Facebook friend who also happened to be someone she worked with in the past.

"Only, it turns out it wasn't her. Her Facebook had been hacked," Patterson said. "It was these people saying that they had gotten a grant and what they had done with it. They'd done this. They'd done that. Your names on a list and you should apply."

Patterson waited a month before making a move on the grant approval, but she says they kept bugging her about the opportunity to get a $150,000 grant. The scammers told her it would be a grant she wouldn't have to pay back and that she could spend the money as she pleased.

"I should have known better because you had to send them cash in the mail and it went to an address in Connecticut," Patterson said. 

The scammers requested a few thousand dollars from her to get things going.

After the alleged "processing fees" and "customs fees," Patterson borrowed and doled out a total of $18,500 to get the grant she was promised, but she hasn't received anything.

"They're still bugging me to this day. I still get emails from them. I still get text messages from them, but I'm just ignoring them at this point and time," Patterson explained. "They told me at the end that because I had been so compliant with them -- they would increase the grant to $350,000...but I got nothing."

Patterson says she called the police, the New York State Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau.

Melanie McGovern, the communications director for the BBB of Upstate New York, says people who believe they may have found a fake profile, compromised account or spam messages, should alert Facebook immediately with the tools the platform provides in your settings.

"The best thing to do is take that conversation offline give that friend to call or send them an email off of Facebook and say, Hey, is this you did you send me this message?'" McGovern said. "The government just doesn't give away free money for a processing fee so again if it seems too good to be true it probably is."

Patterson says she wanted to share her story to warn others who may come across the government scam the next time they log on to Facebook.

"You can't trust Facebook even though you think it's somebody that you know because obviously it wasn't the person I thought it was," Patterson said. 

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