Do Not Give Money To People Who Say They Can Get You Stimulus Cash

Here we go again, scammers are using the recent headlines about the stimulus package to take advantage of people looking for a handout. Emails promising to help you qualify for a chunk of the new spending program in exchange for a small fee or some personal information are popping up in inboxes, according to the FTC.

The FTC says:

E-mail messages may ask for bank account information so that the operators can deposit consumers’ share of the stimulus directly into their bank account. Instead, the scammers drain consumers’ accounts of money and disappear. Or bogus e-mail may appear to be from government agencies and ask for information to “verify” that you qualify for a payment. The scammers use that information to commit identity theft. Some e-mail scams don’t ask for information, but provide links to find out how to qualify for funds. By clicking on the links, consumers have downloaded malicious software or spyware that can be used to make them a victim of identity theft.

“Web sites may advertise that they can help you get money from the stimulus fund. Many use deceptive names or images of President Obama and Vice President Biden to suggest they are legitimate. They’re not,” says Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Don’t fall for it. If you do, you’ll get scammed.”

Some of the scammers ask for a small amount of money, less than $2, but paying them could end up costing you “hundreds or thousands of dollars,” says the FTC. Either the scammers use the payment to get your credit card number, or they enter you into an agreement that could cost you big bucks if you don’t cancel.

If you’ve been scammed or to report a potential scam, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

FTC Warns Consumers About Economic Stimulus Scams [FTC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Veeber says:

    I’m almost wondering if Obama should do a PSA to inform people about the scams.

  2. LegoMan322 says:

    I think a PSA is a good idea if we were living in a smarter society. Even the PSA will go straight over everyone’s head.

  3. Gokuhouse says:

    It’s easy to take advantage of people who believe they deserve free money.

  4. thebluepill says:

    I fell victim to the scam where they take 28% of my paycheck before I even get it. Wonder if this and the stimulus scam is connected?

    • solareclipse2 says:

      @thebluepill: Dang! They got you too?

    • Starfury says:


      I got sucked into the same one but they didn’t get quite that much.

    • Jfielder says:

      @thebluepill: @thebluepill: @uɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ_GitEmSteveDave: I saw that commercial too. I couldn’t get over what a dirtball move that is.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @thebluepill: Ha, suckahs!
      I got a shiny new road that runs from my home to work AND school. And I gots me a shiny Hubble telescope which gave me a closer approximation to the age of the universe and discovered dark matter!
      Whoop whoop!!

      • MostlyHarmless says:

        @Trai_Dep: I just got a mail from some people that are working on affordable healthcare for people who are not as lucky as me. Or were put put of work by other selfish people. Or were disabled. Or are just too old to be able to work and really deserve some help after working hard all their lives and contributing positively to the society.

        They say theyre still working on it, but if they do get it through, I will have to shell out a tiny part of my pay, so that it can help provide health care to that poor chap who toiled hard all his life, day and night, for long hours, in horrible weather, under hazardous conditions, to build that road that You and I take to work AND school, so that OUR lives could be better.

        I think I will be happy to pay :)

    • TheRealAbsurdist says:

      @thebluepill: Those would be the dues you pay to live in a reasonably civilized society. Get over it.

  5. Coksibum says:

    In all honesty, how is this money going to be distributed? I work in a green tech job in the Utility industry and we would love to get a piece of the pie. Does anybody have any suggestions on how to go about getting the $$.

  6. pb5000 says:

    I was listening to my wife explain to my in-laws (they are in their 70’s and not tech savvy at all) how to post something on craigslist. She finally said to just email the picture of the item and that she would set it up for them, complete with an email address that doesn’t have their full names on it. These people are a scamers highest hopes.

    I’m pretty much just waiting to hear my FIL talk about “them internets a dangerous place.”

  7. uɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ_GitEmSteveDave says:

    I saw a commercial last night playing on Channel 5(NY) and it honestly looked like it was a news cast and they were advertising home loans I believe, but they were sounding so happy about the interest rates dropping. Someone who wasn’t that wise would confuse these people for real news anchors.

  8. Anthony Rinaldi says:

    “I’m almost wondering if Obama should do a PSA to inform people about the scams.”

    By that you mean for scams other than his own; correct?

    • SinDex23 says:

      @Anthony Rinaldi: I’d be careful with that kind of talk on Consumerist. I’ve seen lesser comments get flamed into submission. Mind you, I’m amazed that we elected a President that does nothing but political doublespeak. First he says that he wants to fix the Economy, so he creates a ‘Stimulus’ then the next week he says “We need to get rampant spending under control” after signing in a 1.5 Trillion (After Interest) spending bill.

      He says “We need Smaller Government” and yet something like 25-30% of the Country’s GDP is being allocated to Government spending in next year’s budget. Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth!

      • uɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @SinDex23: Obama is an example of pareidolia. People see what they want to see in him and his policies. I have family members who are gay who voted for him b/c of all the things he would do for them, like overturn Prop 8. I asked them why he would do that after stating in the debates that neither Biden or Obama would support gay marriage. I got the “deer in the headlights” look. I’m still waiting for his first act of his Presidency, “overturning the ban on federal funding of new line embryonic stem cell research”, to be completed. For months I heard about how great it would be when he did that.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @SinDex23: Well, we smarty-pants Consumerist types don’t mind informed debate, but yeah, seeing the 34th iteration of whatever swill Rush is propagandizing that day – especially from yahoos who sat on their hands while their buddies added a wasted $3 Trillion to the deficit – makes us want to spank.
        And Herbert Hoover isn’t a patron saint around these parts, unlike RedState, nor is William Jennings Bryan, unlike tinygreenfootballs.
        But honestly, aren’t there other sites for that? Honestly?

  9. cherveny says:

    TONS of ads recently on Facebook, all suggesting they will help you get a piece of the stimulus money. I knew they’d be scams, but wonder how many people are duped.

  10. ztoop says:

    They have been advertising these scams like crazy on facebook. Each one went to Jack, John, or some other person’s blog. Signing up for 1.99 gave you access to there special service, which then charged you ~100/month.

  11. Radi0logy says:

    Its really kind of funny how dangerous the internets are. Its like the wild, wild west, only instead of shooting you they take everything you own. We can tell our grandkids that we were around when “the internets first were being explored! it was an exciting, dangerous time! roving bands of hackers could steal your megahurts, the chinese and russians were invading your windows, and to top it of, africa was trying to steal all your monies! Be glad Obama tamed it kids, be very very glad…”

  12. sirwired says:

    Some people are extra-gullible. I started seeing ads for this even while Congress was still debating if the stimulus was going to pass or not.

    I actually visited one of the websites as a lark: The funniest part was the fact that the pictures of the “stimulus checks” had dates that did not even remotely line up with what the text said they were. (i.e. “I got one check in November, and another at the beginning of February” The pictures had one check dated in January ’08 as a “November” check, and October as a “February” check.)

  13. rpm773 says:

    @Coksibum: Does anybody have any suggestions on how to go about getting the $$.

    Yes. Read the article. :D

  14. bbb_alison says:

    BBB issued a press release on the same topic earlier this week which includes more details on how it all works: []

    The ppl behind these websites moved very quickly to alter their claims and images to avoid more FTC attention. We have saved copies of the websites if anyone would like to see the outrageous claims.

  15. AldisCabango says:

    I guess my only option for me to get a piece of the stimulus pie is to quit paying my mortgage.

  16. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    There’s gullible, there’s clueless and then there’s greedy. Greedy people should never be trusted and always deserve the problems they generate for themselves. Clueless people are often elderly, and can’t exactly be expected to learn all of the newest ways of avoiding scams, and they often don’t keep up (or can’t keep up) with the news. Gullible people are probably a mix of the two, with a dose of dangerous naivete. They truly don’t understand why people would scam others, and find it shocking and appalling that there are people who would intend to take money from others.

  17. Subsound says:

    They need to find these people and up the penalties for doing this…it won’t stop until the penalty > rewards.

    • rpm773 says:

      @Subsound: You’re absolutely right.

      My friend Lurch was a murderer who kept murdering people until he was penalized for it. Once that happened, the costs associated with murdering people outweighed the benefits, so he moved onto other things. Like stamping out license plates in the prison machine shop.

  18. heltoupee says:

    Facebook has been advertising these scams through their partners (that strip of ads that I see on the side of the page every time I forget that AdBlock is turned off). This has been going on for a month.

    It’s true what they say about a fool and his money.

  19. camman68 says:

    SinDex23 – You are So RIGHT! Obama is going to ruin our economy. We need a republican president to get us out of this mess!


  20. N.RobertMoses says:

    So I take it that political contributions are out?

  21. Trencher93 says:

    Scams-the only functional part of free enterprise left?

  22. Dan Seitz says:

    Waaaaaaay behind the curve on this one, guys, there have been obvious scam ads on Facebook for a couple of months now.

  23. t-r0y says:

    The Stimulus Plan IS as scam.

  24. zirconst says:

    This is actually worse than a normal scam. A friend of mine signed up for this, and of course, didn’t delve deep into some random page that says that you’ll get charged $30/mo after buying the $2 government money kit. However, that’s not the worst part. I told my friend it was a scam and he immediately called the company, but the company said he “wasn’t in their database”. He had to repeatedly call/email and try to escalate before they CLAIMED that they finally removed him (after denying he had signed up). Of course, even after all this, he noticed 3 charges on his next month’s credit card statement for increasing amounts of money. None of them for $30, I might add.

    This is beyond a simple “hidden terms” scam, some of these companies are actually stealing your credit card number.

  25. HiPwr says:

    The stimulus is working. These scammers wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for this massive government spending.

  26. Sunny Yeung says:

    Instead of trying to find file sharers and disconnecting their connections, I think we should find these scamming scumbags and make sure they can’t get on the net ever again.

  27. zibby says:

    “Do Not Give Money To People Who Say They Can Get You Stimulus Cash.”

    Up to and including the government?