Oceanside Man Targeted in Govt. Grant Scam

Promise of government grants don't pan out

Ross Mills didn't know what to make of the phone call he got Sunday morning at his Oceanside home.

The person on the other end of the line said Mills was one of 17,000 Americans chosen to receive a $7,000 dollar grant.

So why did the government pick Ross Mills?

"Because I was a good citizen and hadn't filed bankruptcy recently," Mills said explaining the caller's reasoning.

He was surprised but said he could use the money to paint his house. So he listened to the caller, who said he needed to contact their finance officer.

"They repeated they knew where I lived, my name and had information on me," said Mills.

The caller I.D. showed the call originated from Washington, D.C. But when Ross Mills asked how he could receive the money, he was surprised. They told him he would have to give his credit card or bank account information. He didn't feel good about that, so they said he could use a Green Dot MoneyPak card, which works like a gift card.

"They said, we want you to put $265 on the Green Dot card so it gets activated and is read to go," he said.

But wouldn't do that.

"Once they have the card number, once they have the money on the card then they've got access to the money," said Sheryl Reichert, CEO with the San Diego Better Business Bureau.

Reichert says the offer is absolutely not a legitimate deal.

"What they're looking for in return is access to your money, access to your bank account, access to bank account numbers, access to a card where you can send them money," Reichert said.

She says people lose money from scams like this every day in San Diego. She says any time someone wants to give you money but requires money from you first, it is almost always a scam.

Ross Mills is glad he didn't fall for the scheme but worries about people who might go along with it.

As for the con artists behind the scam?

"People that don't care about people, that's sad," he said.

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