3OYS: Woman falls victim to online grant scam

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX  -- A valley woman hoping to further her education wound up getting a life lesson instead.

It all started when she went online, which is where a lot of scams start. In the end, she did lose some money, and possibly lost her identity, as well.

Dottie Henson believes you're never too old to better yourself, and says she wants to be a good role model to her family.

"It was just time to stop saying, 'I'm going to do it', and just start doing it," Henson said.

So Henson decided it was time to go back to school.

"I went online to do the information for financial aid for grants and scholarships," Henson said.

A short time later, she got what she thought was a very promising phone call. It was from someone saying they were calling from "The Government Grants Department."

"At first, it started out at $5K, which is not unreasonable," Henson says. But it didn't stop there.  She got another phone call.

"They called me back saying they wanted to run my credit report, so they said," Henson tells 3 On Your Side.  "They called me back and asked me for a specific number on my tax return."

Henson said they asked for a lot of other personal information, like banking information and her social security number, to see if she qualified for more money.

"I gave them that and they told me that I was approved for $50K," Henson said.

But before she could get her hands on that money, there was a catch. "In order to do that, I needed to send them $100 for the fees that it cost," Henson said.

Henson wired the $100, and that was the last she heard from the Government Grant Department and her so-called free 'grant money'.

"Once they got the money, I never got another human on the phone," Henson said.

She hopes others don't fall for a scam like she did, because the scammers have not only taken her dignity, but also everything they need to take her identity.

"They took my money, my bank information, my personal information, where I live," Henson said.  "It's hurtful, but I know I wouldn't do it to anybody.  And it makes you want to stop trusting."