Be on the Lookout for Scammers Impersonating the National Institutes of Health

Callers are telling people that they've been selected to receive a $14,000 grant from NIH

Be on the Lookout for Scammers Impersonating the National Institutes of Health
Image: NCCC
August 9, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers to be on the lookout for another government imposter scam.

Impersonating NIH

In a blog post published this week, Cristina Miranda with the FTC's Division of Consumer and Business Education says that consumers have reported being contacted by individuals claiming to be with the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Miranda says that, according to reports, callers are telling people that they've been selected to receive a $14,000 grant from NIH. To get the grant, however, the callers claim that a fee must first be paid using an iTunes or Green Dot card, or by providing bank account information.

"If you get a call like this from someone asking you to pay money to get money, stop," Miranda urges. "Hang up the phone. The federal government will not call you to give you a grant. NIH does give grants to researchers, but they have to apply for them, and those grants are for public purposes, not for personal use."

Red flags of a scam

Keep in mind that the federal government will never call you, demanding that you give your personal or financial information—like your bank account or Social Security number.

Red flags of a scam include being asked to wire money, cash a check that is mailed to you for the purpose of sending someone money, or to use a prepaid card to pay some type of fee. Nobody legitimate—and certainly not the government—will ever ask you to pay in any of those ways.

For more helpful tips and information on avoiding government grant scams, NIH offers a free online guide.

Have you been targeted?

If you believe that you've been the victim of this scam and have sent money—get in touch with whoever you used to send the money (your bank, MoneyGram, Western Union, iTunes, etc.) and report the fraud immediately.

The con should also be reported right away to the FTC.

Find out more about government imposter scams.