"Free" grant scam going around in Amarillo

Amarillo, TX - Several people in Amarillo have received calls about free grant money that the Better Business Bureau says is a scam.

In the scam, the BBB says a person is told over the phone they are awarded free grant money and all they need to do is send over $200 first to get the free money.

A caller claimed he had received a call telling him he was awarded a $7,000 grant. All he had to do was send $260 first, but the caller says he never applied for a grant.

Another caller was asked to open an account at a local bank and deposit $249. She was instructed to call a number with a 206 area code and they promised $8,500 would be deposited into that account.

"When you have to pay up front, it's no longer "free money," said Janna Kiehl, BBB CEO. "Unfortunately, some people do fall for the grant scam."

Obtaining a grant takes time and paperwork. Grant are given to specific community projects and rarely to individuals for personal needs. Funds are used for specific projects that a foundation supports, for example.

Area codes to look out for are 253 and 206, which are out of Washington. Scammers typically use these area codes when they are operating under the guise of "federal" or governmental officials.

The BBB has three things you need to know:

1. Never provide money up front to an unknown company for any reason. Paying up front fees for loan, grants and prizes is illegal and should be a warning that you are dealing with a scam artist.

2. Scam money is rarely retrieved, that's part of the deal with a scam. It's a final, irreversible transaction when you give money to a scam.

3. These types of scams use your bank and credit card information to take money. They do not use that information to make a deposit into your account. Protect your personal data, your money and your family. Say no to scams.