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Alert: Government grant scam still active

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Wendy Plumb nearly fell to a government grant scam. (Source: KTVK) Wendy Plumb nearly fell to a government grant scam. (Source: KTVK)

On a recent early morning while still in her bedroom, Wendy Plumb got an unexpected phone call and according to her caller ID, it was coming from Washington, D.C.

"They told me I had qualified for a grant for being a good citizen pretty much," Plumb said.

The person on the other end told the Phoenix woman that she had been chosen for a free government grant in the amount of $7,000. Plumb took down the information and went back to sleep.

But a short time later she got another call saying the grant was now up to $9,000.

"They said the grant was time sensitive, and I needed to start paperwork," Plumb said.

The persistent caller kept Plumb on the phone and told her that to collect the free grant she needed to leave her home and head out to a nearby store to buy a gift card to pay $250 that would cover a registration fee. So, Plumb hopped in her car and made the short drive to a nearby Walgreens.

"I walk into Walgreens, and I don't remember exactly what he said, but he directed me to the gift cards, and I need you to purchase this kind of card," Plumb said.

Not just any gift card, the caller said it had to be a very specific card.

"He said, 'This is the card I need you to get, it's an Apple card because your grant was through Apple,'" said Plumb.

While still on the phone and inside Walgreens, the caller told her told her not to say anything to anyone about what she was doing.

And that's when an alarm inside Plumb's head went off, and she knew it was a scam.

"At that point yeah, this is kind of hokey," said Plumb.

Plumb didn't buy that card and hung up. She Googled the number and found numerous postings for scams using the same number. She also found a warning from the Federal Trade Commission saying:

"Don't pay any money for a 'free' government grant. A real government agency won't ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded."

As for Plumb, she realizes she was almost duped and doesn't want others to fall for the scam.

“I don't want it to happen again, want to get the word out," Plumb said.

For additional information from the Federal Trade Commission regarding grant scams, click on the following link: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0113-government-grant-scams

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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