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New Phone Scam Offers Free Money from the Federal Government

February 2nd, 2006 · 24 Comments

It’s almost dinner time, and the phone rings. You check the caller ID – it’s a New Jersey number. You don’t recognize the number, but you pick it up anyway. “Hello,” a female voice says on the other end of the line in halting English. “I am calling for the United States government. There is $12,500 here for you. Do you want it?” You look at the caller ID again, sigh, and hang up the phone.

That’s right, it’s a scam. In fact, these brave new phone thieves have called my house twice in the last week. The second time they called, we decided to press them a little bit for more information, just to try and uncover their game. As soon as we expressed interest in obtaining the money “that had been set aside just because we are good Americans who pay their taxes on time,” the voice on the other end of the line started asking for the routing information for our checking account. That’s when we hung up for the second time.

If you get this call, don’t fall for it. The thieves at the other end of the line are most likely going to use your checking account information to withdraw money from your account, not deposit federal funds.

After the second phone call, I decided to place a call to my local FBI office just to confirm my suspicions that this was in fact fraud. Part of me wanted to believe that the federal government really was trying to track me down and give me money. Hope springs eternal, but my hopes were dashed in the mere thirty seconds it took to get an FBI agent on the line.

“Beseiged.” That’s what the FBI agent said. They are currently “besieged” with calls about this scam. And yes, it is a scam. The federal government is not randomly calling taxpayers and offering them big money simply for being good citizens.

Here are three easy tips about how to avoid being scammed over the phone:

1. Establish a house rule about phone solicitations. In our house, the rule is “NO”. We don’t engage in any sort of financial agreement of any kind with anyone who contacts us by phone. This includes charities.

2. Teach everyone in your family about this rule, and practice hanging up the phone on solicitors. Kids and adults are often hesitant to do this, since it is impolite under normal circumstances. Tell your children that under no circumstances should they ever divulge any personal information over the phone without your knowledge.

3. Alert the FBI to phone calls that seem to be fraudulent. The easiest way to do this is over the internet. The FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center maintain a web site for reporting phone fraud at It’s very easy to use.

Don’t get taken in by these guys. Remember the adage about things that seem too good to be true. They probably are.

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Tags: Funny Things

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 New York City // May 20, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Thanks so very much for this information. This same scam was attempted on someone dear to me. Your article gave me the ability to demonstrate to the individual that the $4,851 that the "National Grants Department" promised to send in return for a processing fee of $149 was a lie. Unfortunately, many people are extremely desperate right now and are falling for these types of con games.

  • 2 ARF // Jun 18, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    They are at it again form phone number 202 – 280 – 2381
    This phone has call blocking, but they do not even care.
    And looking for me? This phone is an emergency #, does not have a name.

  • 3 Amanda // Oct 11, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I got this call today from phone number 317-299-7864. Shouldn't the feds be going after this person? If we can provide a phone number why can't they catch them?

  • 4 Doug // Nov 18, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    I just received a call today 11-18-09 about how the goverment wants to give me 5000. dollars. This is the second call I have got from them. So i humored the guy for a while. The first call I got they wanted a bank acct number so i told the guy if they wanted to give me money just send me a check. The guy and i argued back and forth till i hung up. Today it was the same thing but when i told him i would give no personal info to him he said i could get my free money thru western union but i had to call his supervisor ay 202-657-6402 to get a number so i could go get my money. I called the number he gave me and got no awncer. I know its a scam but i was bored and wanted to mess with them a little bit. How do they think they can pull this scam off about giving us goverment money when they can hardly speek english??

  • 5 Steven // Nov 24, 2009 at 2:49 am

    they call every day, all day, mostly we ignore it and just don't answer………..but tonight I just plain got sick of it and answered the phone in order to become the "most ignorant person on the face of the planet"………and I performed quuite well for about 10 minutes while my wife and son were doubled and rolling around on the with laughter. Finally in complete experation they hung up on me, and I doubt they will call me again.

  • 6 DAQ // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I received the call today also and muther ****ed them throughly and told them that I called the our State Arttorney General's office as well as BBB. I'd never offer my acct. info but it's absurd that they are claming they are from the U.S. Dept of Health and Human services. It's a federal crime to claim you are from a government agency. Total pieces of ****.

  • 7 lisa snyder // Mar 5, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    i got a call yesterday ,they said tthis guy named steve walls was from the us government and he had 5000.00 to give me all i had to do was give him a card numer to put it on so i gave him pre paid card that has no link to anything then he says his supervisor was going to call me today and put money on card well when they called they wanted me to go to western union and give someone in india 50.00 as a donation first then they would send the money lol they think people are that stupid the numers they gave me are 1-202-657-6268 and 1-408- 916 1704 supposedly the government id # is I374 for steve walls ,i live in alaska be ware of this scam

  • 8 Linda // May 7, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I got a call earlier today 5/6/10 saying since I was one of America's best citizens the Fedral (his spelling) Health Department was going to send me $500. All I had to do was give them my address. I was given an address (in NJ), a phone number, person's name and ID number. I asked him more questions than he asked me. He finally gave up and hung up on me.

  • 9 Michael // Aug 9, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Today I got a call saying they were from the U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services, telling me that I was going to receive $4500.00 for paying my taxes, and bills on time! All I have to do is go to western union, and then call them back when I was there. They would then need me to give them $89.00 security fee + $10.00 western union fee, and the manager would stay on the phone with me for 10 mins, until I received the transfer of funds, which was now going to be $4589.00 to reinburst my security fee, but sorry the $10.00 I would not receive back to pay the transfer fee. They already had all my info when they contacted me, so why not just send me a check I asked, He said that this is faster and better because you have to show your I.D. And this way the money was nontaxable, ? When does Uncle Sam let any of us have money without taxing it once or even twice? Why would I have to pay money transfering fees? Also If it was a real deal, by mail you would still need an I.D. to cash the check right? They also said not to inform western union of the situation or they would charge me $500.00-$800.00, for taxes, so when did western union start being the IRS, and even @ that I thought the money was non-taxable? So which is it? They became angry that I had so much to say and ask, but if they were real, then they would understand the concern people would, have better yet, if it were real this is not the manner in which you would be receiving your money for qoute “Paying your Bills, and Taxes on time”! So then I was given a website to look them up,
    So I did, and nowhere there does it list any info about there deal, also the very buttom of the page has a disclaimer about the web address having nothing to do with any of the information posted on it, and was not a warranty, and to make your own determenation, of what you saw listed above! So I called back, 1-202-204-0092 and told them that I don’t see how the web page relates to them. The guy acted confused for me to say this, and then became very angry, and told me to look on the net if I wanted to waste time, but call him back when I was @ western union. So I called western union and they said they have had many cases of this with no money sent, they had advised me to contact F.B.I , and not to answer anymore phone calls from them, or to try to figure out who they were, because these people were advanced thieves that could end up involing me into there scam somehow, seeing how they have so much info about me!
    So why give free money to people for paying their bills and taxes on time? that would be nice, but don’t you think the people who haven’t paid on time would need the money more? Oh yea here my biggest problem with this situation, I was being given this money for being a good person and paying my bills, and taxes on time, but if they were who they said they were then how come they don’t know that I’m like half of the United States or better, and I’m in fiancial hardship, behind on bills, and taxes!!! But what the hell, look @ the economy! Then look @ these a**holes out here trying to take more money with these scams to take more out of the hurting people that they don’t have!!! I wish they cared about what they do to people, on one hand they might have just taken money from somebody who could afford to lose it, but on the other so many families are in critical situations, I’m glad they think padding their pockets is worth the possibility that They could have just taken some child’s food right from their mouth, or a baby’s diapers or formula! Now the children or babies are paying for this greed, and as they cry, and starve, the parents feel so horrible for their children and can do nothing now, because they were tricked, when they thought they were finally going to have a chance to better things for their family, it’s easy to take advantage of people who want to believe in these scams… I thought that Americans had a enough problems with dealing with bad banks taken our homes away! These scams need to be stopped!!! Here is what I was given for info about these people…… Greg Hutch… 1-202-204-0092… U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services…200 Independence ave S.W. Washington D.C. 20201…
    Some of these places do exsist, but these people say they are from them and they are not…. The real employees don’t call you with SCAMS like this!!! Thanks, I hope your family doesn’t fall victim to this, things are hard enough in my world…

  • 10 Mamaaintnofool // Aug 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I just got this call from the phone # 284-677-3592 and was told to call back 202-204-0092. I was told the same will recieve $4500 and will need to pay $89.00. What really spooke me is they new the nearest western union near my house. These people are sick and they will never scam me. I can’t wait until these people are caught.

  • 11 E.David // Oct 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I just received a call from a person speaking broken english. She said the government wanted to give me 7,000 for paying my taxes and being a good citizen ahe gave me a contract number and a telephone number to call and a contact name of Tracy Cooper. I immediately called my local police and he directed me to this web sight . I knew it was a scam butI wanted to be absolutely sure. Thanks to all of you who have made comment on this scam.

  • 12 jou // Jul 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I recently got one of those government grant scam calls. I have been getting a call from a blocked number everyday for the past two weeks around the same time. I dont take blocked calls so finally i got tired of it and decide to pick up to see who or what it was. A lady with a middle eastern accent claimed that she was calling from the us government and i had been selected to recieve 7000 dollars. i kept asking where she was calling from because all I can get was US government blah blah blah…i couldnt understand her. then i asked for her name and she just kept ignoring me telling me that if i want the money that they can send it to me in five minutes if i gave her my account number. I continued to ask for her name and she became quiet for about a minute. I kept trying to get her attention saying hello are you there? Finally she screamed CATHERINE BROWN! with an attitude. I told her dang lady no need to get all mad. hahah! i knew it was a scam and she finally hung up the phone. I didnt get a call back lie i almost fell for it because who doesnt want free money? Luckily i snapped back to reality and kept asking questions.

  • 13 Jim // Jul 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Recieved a call just a hour ago sounded too good to be true. They had my name and phone and address. and wanted me to call a number for verification, they are still out thier.

  • 14 Amber // Sep 16, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I got the call yesterday. The number they called from was 202-239-6000 (cell phone from D.C)and caller ID said Song-Ho for the name. The number I was to call back is 205-679-2020 (landline from AL). The address they are using is 2460 Government st in Mobile Alabama which is a real address but it just so happens to be the Mobile Police Department.

  • 15 Pamela // Sep 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I got a call in California today saying they were the US Government and I had 5,000 waiting for me if I give them a credit card number! An man with an accent from India named Kevin Johnson! They used 2460 Government St. Mobile Al 36606 205-679-2020 phone number. 2460 Government St. is Mobile AL Police Dept.! I called the Mobile police dept and let them know. The 205 number is a Magic Jack number. The phone number on my caller id was 510-574-9987. When you call the 510 number it does not connect. When you call the 205 number the mail box is full! They did answer a couple of times but when I told them they were going to hell they hung up. I have gotten calls from Gold Rush Co. in Las Vegas, Nevada saying I won 5.2 million by people from India and his name was George Washington and his supervisors name was James Jefferson. India crooks do not have names like George Washington and James Jefferson! They are always from India!!!!!!!!!. I just asked the Mobile AL detective why we cant produce a software program that will detect these numbers like facial recon. and put a stop to it. Someone could make a million legally.

  • 16 john // Oct 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Same situation here same 205 number and 202 number does anyone else find it funny that these Indians have not been busted yet?? Almost like our very own government who is suppose to protect us from situations like these is in on the scam cause if u report it don’t seem like they do anything about it I mean the same numbers and the scam artists behind the numbers are still calling people. Something to seriously think about huh

  • 17 Patel // Mar 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I can’t believe this is still going on…..article was written in 2006 and this guys are doing it openly. My friend got a call from 202-657-6268 guy name Eric Newman (obviously using wrong name). Same story u receiving $8k grant money but u have to western union them $900 etc etc……My friend was about to send him money but i am glad i searched this online. THis means our government or FBI is doing nothing about this…..filing complaint is not helping otherwise why this people are still operating scam openly. They are not even blocking their calls!!!!

  • 18 Lisa // Sep 27, 2012 at 8:12 am

    This happened to me last night a man called me saying that i was hand selected by the US Government for a $7000 grant that i didnt have to pay back. asked me to contact the finance department and they will tell me how to recievce the money cash. Just to see I called they wanted me to go to Western Union pay $260 with them on the phone they will put me on hold to contact bank once transaction was processed and then i will get my $7000 plus my $260 back that they needed a tracking number for the $260 i paid for a charity in honor of my name. i then hung up and did some research and found exact stories that i went through last night. its ridiculous that they are trying to say they are from our US Government when they speak broken english. the first number that called me was 970-002 a guy named Steve not even an area code showed up and the number to the finance department was 202-657-4419 a lady named michelle williams. I wish our government would find these people and arrest them this is absolutey ridiculous that they know its going on and nothing is being done!!!

  • 19 Bob // Apr 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    i just had a guy call me from u.s.…telling me that 7000.00 was waiting to be sent to me , iether by western union or direct dept to my credit card or debit. the call was from 334-356-2126 and was told to call right back to 203-308-5078 i waited 30 mins and called no one was able to ansewer the phone it just rang and rang…… boo dumb A-holes this ones got your number and yours is comeing

  • 20 Amanda // Apr 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Same thing happened to me today! The lady spoke in a Jamaican dialect. 202 number , I politely informed her nothing is for free and to sell her scam to some one else! The nerve of these ppl!

  • 21 Patricia // Aug 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I received a phone call from a Jason White, in New York, zip code he gave me was 212538 ,saying I had been chosen to receive 7,600 FREE money, just go to any Western Union and call him at 1-845-233-6576 and take my drivers Licenses and 100 dollars in cash and I would receive 7, 600 U.S. Government FREE money. This is a scam.

  • 22 Susan // Sep 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I have been receiving these calls for months now on my home and cell numbers. Most of the time I don’t answer but now & then I feel the need to mess with them. I asked them why is the amount different every time they call – they hung up immediately. I asked them why they were calling on a holiday weekend knowing the government wasn’t working – lol- they hardly work during office hours. I told them once to just mail a check – the government knows where I am. The check still hasn’t come (no surprise). The first time I answered & they told me the government was sending me $10,000 I didn’t have to pay back I just started laughing & they finally hung up. No matter what I do though, they still keep calling!

  • 23 Candace // Jun 1, 2015 at 11:45 am

    just got a call stating all I had to do was call the number 253-216-8095 and I would get 9,000.00 because I paid my taxes on time.
    They knew my name and address. I hung up on them.. Beware!!!

  • 24 Hope // Jan 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    I am afraid to say this but my parents were a victim of this scam. I told them repeately not to do it- but what do I know. The guy assured my dad that this was not a scam and wanted the routing number and wanted to western union like 250 and then wanted another 1000 and they did it and then he wanted more money and my dad refused. Talked with the police and was advised it was a scam and I knew it. If you are entitled to money you should not have to pay. If I get this call I will hang up i work to hard for my money to be a victim of this pathetic and bad excuse for a human con artist. DON’T BE THE VICTIM< THIS IS A SCAM. And we will file the info with I am a criminal justice major so I will make sure this gets done. My dad was really upset and I don't blame him, its a shame for this to happen.

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