'Federal grant' scam hitting Ohio asks for upfront processing fee

The Ohio Attorney General warns of a scam that tries to lure victims with the promise of federal grant money in exchange for an upfront fee.

Bogus notifications of the grants have occurred in Ohio more than a dozen times since early June, via e-mail, letter or phone call. In a public statement, the state attorney general's office noted many of the phone calls originated in the Washington D.C. 202 area code, adding to the scam's "illusion of legitimacy."

The attorney general's office gives the following guidance on official-sounding scams:

  • To determine a letter's legitimacy, contact the agency from phone numbers found on the agency's official web site, not those provided in the notice.

  • Be wary of any check received in the mail -- especially if letters ask that a portion of the money be wired elsewhere.

The Federal Trade Commission notes that "free" government grants would not require payment for processing fees. Federal grant scams can be reported online through www.ftc.gov.