Live 5 Scambusters: Summerville woman nearly fell for Facebook imposter account pushing fake government grant

VIDEO: Live 5 Scambusters: Summerville woman nearly fell for Facebook imposter account pushing fake government grant

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Money-for-nothing promises through fake Facebook accounts are becoming more common among scam artists.

Jean Pope of Summerville thought she had a chance to claim a $50,000 government grant. Her cousin told her about the federal grant program through Facebook Messenger. She needed the money and this seemed like perfect timing.

“I still owe on my house and I was thinking that would take a big chunk out of it,” Pope said.

Pope would soon realize the money wasn’t real. Neither was the cousin who sent the message.

“All of a sudden it hit me to back up the conversation,” Pope said. “It said it was from Nigeria.”

Someone spoofing her cousin’s Facebook account put Pope in touch with a lawyer handling the a supposed Federal Grant Program. Pope started getting more messages from an account spoofing Beth Drake, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina.

The message from the fake Beth Drake account included a grant application letter and instructions on how to get her money. This included buying a prepaid credit card for $200 from Walmart or Walgreens. The prepaid gift card is a hallmark of many popular scams.

Spoofed accounts are an ongoing problem for Facebook. The social media company says it removed 2.2 billion fake accounts in three months of 2019. As fast as fake accounts are taken down, new fake accounts appear. Facebook estimates 5 percent of its 2.4 billion active users are fake.

If you get a friend request from someone you think is already a friend you need to double check the account before accepting. You should also report the account to Facebook to protect others from becoming a victim.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.

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