RINCON, Ga. (WTOC) - Scammers are now using Facebook Messenger to target victims using a fake grant which offers a big payout but could actually cost you thousands of dollars.
It’s a scam a Rincon business owner nearly fell victim to and is now using their experience to warn others before it’s too late.
“They had that second PPP loan going around and we didn’t qualify. We weren’t open long enough,” said Erich Perez who owns iHeart Dental in Rincon with his wife.
It’s an unfortunate reality for many business owners right now.
Then Perez and his wife got a Facebook message from a friend & coworker last week.
“They were saying that they were very happy today because they just got a grant for $100,000,” said Perez.
Even better this friend wanted to help them get some grant money, too.
“When you’re hearing good news like that you’re quick to jump on it and not think about what you’re doing,” Perez says.
From there they passed along a phone number of an agent they could text to see if they qualified.
But when Perez found out all they needed to check was their name and address, well that’s when it clicked.
“You just need your name and address to see if you’re on a grant to win, I don’t think so,” said Perez.
It turns out his suspicions were correct.
After a quick search online, he discovered it was in fact a scam.
His friends Facebook had been hacked.
A scam Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida & the Southeast Atlantic, says he been going around.
“It’s pretty common it’s been around for quite a while.”
According to Stephens, Perez did the right thing and got out before it was too late.
Typically, at some point these scammers will say you need to pay some sort of tax for the grant, a few thousand dollars.
“What can you do at that point once you’ve sent money?”
“Cry, that’s pretty much it because you’re not going to get the money back,” responded Stephens.
Stephens says when it comes to getting money through a grant keep this in mind.
“Government money doesn’t just fall out of the sky you have to apply for it.”
Something luckily Perez realized, and now he’s hoping to spread to word so no one falls victim.
“Nobody deserves to be scammed. I don’t want to be scammed so I sure don’t want anybody else to be scammed.”
Stephens also suggests if a Facebook friend sends a message like this that you reach out to them in some other form, whether email or by calling them, as that is the quickest way to figure out if it’s truly too good to be true.