Scammers impersonating United Way staff offer cash grants for personal information

Published: Sep. 10, 2019 at 4:08 PM CDT
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The United Way warns Kansans to be on guard after a pair of reports in the eastern U.S. about scammers claiming to represent the organization to get personal information.

"Recently two United Ways, one in Pennsylvania and another in Alabama, reported similar occurrences where individuals were duped by scammers claiming to be associated with United Way," the organization says.

These calls were different, but included similarities the United Way says are "striking."

First, the scammers either masqueraded as their target's Facebook friend, or claimed their target's Facebook friends as references. They offered cash grants claiming their targets are eligible for these grants under "Federal trust funds" or a similar, official-sounding program.

To receive the grant, scammers told their targets they had to complete an application that included detailed information from their driver's license and bank account, as well as their mother's maiden name, credit card information and social login credentials."

You can see an example of an exchange between the scammers and a person they're trying to take advantage of

"No United Way would contact individuals with a grant offer," the organization says. "It is highly unusual for any charity to do this. If individuals get an offer like this, they should contact their United Way immediately before providing any information."

In the Wichita metro area, call the United Way of the Plains at 316-267-1321.

Tips from the Federal Trade Commission to avoid scams:
  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails or calls from anyone with an offer of grants.
  • If you do get contacted, ask for the caller's contact information and let them know you'll call them back. Call the organization directly (not the number you were given) to confirm the identity of anyone who has contacted you.
  • Never provide personal information in response to unsolicited offers of assistance.
  • Check your social media account settings to limit what others can view about you.
  • Limit access to your Friends list on Facebook, because that's a data source regularly used by scammers to win your trust and confidence.

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