Reminder: Just because the President’s face is on a web site that’s offering products ostensibly related to the government, it doesn’t make it true. Way back in 2009 the Federal Trade Commission put the smackdown on a bunch of sites that were selling products that would help consumers get free government grant money. Thing is, the government had nothing to do with it, and didn’t much appreciate being used in such a way. Some 22,764 consumers are now set to get refunds in the case.
The FTC announced today that it’s sending out refund checks totaling about $1.7 million to people who were swindled by a company that set up web sites falsely claiming they could get free money for people.
In order to convince consumers as such, the FTC says companies like Grant Connect advertised services like a “unique consumer-friendly US government grant program that delivers all of the tools for the consumer to search multiple databases, write grant proposals, and deliver polished plans…” on its site, using images of the President and an American flag because you know, that’s so government-y.
It’s also wrong, because neither the flag nor the President had anything to do with these grant-related products. The settlement bans the defendants in the case from selling those items, or from selling anything with an automatically recurring fee.
The amount of refunds people will get will vary, says the FTC, depending on how much money they lost in the scheme. Many will get up to 80% of their total loss back through the FTC. If you do get a check, make sure you cash it within 60 days of receiving it. Anyone with questions should call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or visit the FTC’s complaint site here.