3 On Your Side

Don't fall for the 'Federal Grant Scam'

Posted: Updated:
Sheri Leger fell for the Federal Grant Scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Sheri Leger fell for the Federal Grant Scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Sheri Leger fell for the Federal Grant Scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Sheri Leger fell for the Federal Grant Scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The caller was a scammer and claimed to be with an agency called the U.S. Government Grant Department. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The caller was a scammer and claimed to be with an agency called the U.S. Government Grant Department. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Leger went to her nearest retailer and purchased $150 in iTunes cards. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Leger went to her nearest retailer and purchased $150 in iTunes cards. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
She then scratched off the back of the security code and revealed the numbers to the scammer giving him full access to the $150 dollars. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) She then scratched off the back of the security code and revealed the numbers to the scammer giving him full access to the $150 dollars. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Sheri Leger, like a lot of folks, lives paycheck to paycheck. So, when she got a phone call recently and the guy on the other end said he had $9,000 in free federal grant money, that got Leger’s attention.

"Well, they said because I paid all my bills on time and I was really good with my credit, that's why they awarded it,” Leger said.

“In other words, they were rewarding you because you're a good citizen?" 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked her.

“Correct,” she replied

The caller was really a scammer and claimed to be with an agency called the U.S. Government Grant Department. He said in order for Leger to get all that money, she had to pay a $150 transaction fee.

“I bet you were pretty excited?" Harper asked.

"Well, yeah! Of course,” she said.

So, just like she was told to do, Leger went to her nearest retailer and purchased $150 in iTunes cards. She then scratched off the back of the security code and revealed the numbers to the scammer giving him full access to the $150. Leger thought she was done, but the con man then said she had to pay $900 in insurance because it was an out-of-state transaction.

"I just told him that I don't have that kind of money," she said.

Even after the scammer reduced the insurance fee down to $425, Leger hung up and called her bank, which confirmed she had been scammed and that there was no free government grant agency.

Leger filed a police report and also contacted 3 On Your Side. And, the very day we showed up to talk to Leger, guess who called.

"Is that your phone ringing?” Harper asked. "Do you need to get that? Maybe it’s the scammer."

It was, in fact, the scammer sniffing around, looking to convince Leger to send in that $425 fee.

"So, I was expecting a callback yesterday to make a payment of $425,” the scammer said as we listened in on her speaker phone. “But, since you did not call me back, that's the reason I was calling you back today," he said.

We continued to listen to the con man’s sales pitch, and that's when it came time to confront his lies.

“Why do you do this to people?” Harper asked. “Why do you do this?"

“Do you have any proof this is a scam?" the con man replied.

"Yes, you're a fraud and a scam,” Harper said. “There's no such thing as free government grants. You know that and you're ripping people off."

After realizing he had been exposed, the scammer hung up.

Leger says she can't believe how persistent and convincing these scammers are and she was somewhat surprised he actually called her back on this day.

"They got me for $150. I suppose they figured I was still a sucker," Leger said, chuckling.

“Yeah, they wanted more money didn't they?" Harper asked.

“Yes, they did," she said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Recent 3 On Your Side storiesMore>>

  • 3 On Your Side

    Smart devices: Do you own what you buy?

    Smart devices: Do you own what you buy?

    Saturday, February 4 2017 9:52 AM EST2017-02-04 14:52:25 GMT
    Consumers are app crazy, and not only to control temps or lights. They're unlocking doors and maybe even seeing what's inside the fridge. (Source: Alexander Kirch via 123RF)Consumers are app crazy, and not only to control temps or lights. They're unlocking doors and maybe even seeing what's inside the fridge. (Source: Alexander Kirch via 123RF)

    "Oftentimes, the companies that make these products insist that even though you might own the physical object, you don't own the software code inside of it," he said. "And that code is really fundamental to the operation of those products."

    More >

    "Oftentimes, the companies that make these products insist that even though you might own the physical object, you don't own the software code inside of it," digital rights specialist and author Aaron Perzanowski said. "And that code is really fundamental to the operation of those products."

    More >
  • 3 On Your Side

    Are you on the right utility plan?

    Are you on the right utility plan?

    Friday, September 22 2017 12:20 AM EDT2017-09-22 04:20:03 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    The Valley is just coming out of some intense summer heat so your utility bill should start dropping. That's what a Surprise, Arizona woman thought, but it was higher than she's ever had before because she was on the wrong utility plan.

    More >

    The Valley is just coming out of some intense summer heat so your utility bill should start dropping. That's what a Surprise, Arizona woman thought, but it was higher than she's ever had before because she was on the wrong utility plan.

    More >
  • 3 On Your Side

    Beware of Facebook 'hoax'

    Beware of Facebook 'hoax'

    Thursday, September 21 2017 1:00 AM EDT2017-09-21 05:00:38 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    When you're on Facebook, you come across all kinds of things and wedged in between all that material can be also be some very clever hoaxes and scams you need to be aware of.

    More >

    When you're on Facebook, you come across all kinds of things and wedged in between all that material can be also be some very clever hoaxes and scams you need to be aware of.

    More >

Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Hide bio

Contact 3 On Your Side