St. John deputies warn of Facebook ‘government grant’ scam

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. — Deputies in St. John the Baptist Parish are warning residents of a government grant offer scam active in St. John Parish.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said in this scam, Facebook users are being notified by “friends” claiming they are eligible to receive a free U.S. government grant.

Tregre warns residents not to respond to these imposters.

“There is no free government grant. This is a scam to steal personal information and money,” he said.

The scam usually begins with a person receiving a Facebook message detailing information on free grant money from the government. This message may come from a recently added Facebook friend, a family member, or a longtime friend, and may state that they received the grant money.

The message may include a link to a law office, a phony government website, or a real U.S. government website to appear legitimate. The scammer may also send the message using the name of an actual government official.

Eventually, the scammer will ask for personal information and a payment for processing fees. Unfriend and block these users immediately, and call the sheriff’s office at 985-359-8477 if you believe you may be a victim or have been targeted.

Never reply to messages — Facebook messages, emails, text messages, etc. — asking for personal information or money. 

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for Facebook users: 

• Be careful with friend requests from strangers. We all want to have new friends, but try to keep your social networking friends to folks you know outside of the social media platform. If it appears the request is from a business contact or friend of a friend, send them a message after accepting to test their legitimacy. If they don’t seem real or connected to your life, unfriend them.

• Don’t blindly trust your current Facebook friends. You may receive a message from someone you have known all your life. That doesn’t mean you must trust them. If the message seems out-of-character, their account may have been hacked or cloned. Contact them offline and let them know.