Resource Associates is committed to preventing and reporting consumer fraud. The grants industry is infiltrated with “scammers” who make promises of millions of dollars in grant awards, but never deliver on their fictional guarantees. As one of the very first grant writing organizations to operate in the United States, Resource Associates was around long before these scam firms existed. These types of fraudulent organizations hurt our industry and cause the public to question the validity of grants in general.
If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud by a grant scam, it is important to know for sure before you take action. Here are some signs and indicators that you have been defrauded:
- Did the “scammer” charge your credit card for a monthly fee (these are usually for “government grant clubs” or access to the scammer’s website or grants database) and when you received your credit card bill, was the fee higher than what was quoted to you?
- Did you request that the “scammer” stop billing your credit card and after making such a request, did you continue to get billed?
- Did the “scammer” tell you that all you have to do is fill out a form (usually what is referred to as a 424 form) and by sending the form into a government funder, it guarantees that you will get a grant? Was the form (or a grant proposal) sent to a funder with no return correspondence from the funder after 8 months of being sent?
- Did the “scammer” charge you for a service or product that you never received?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you were probably scammed. Everyday, these fraudulent companies come up with new and slicker ways to defraud the public so this list unfortunately grows and evolves constantly.
The best way to report consumer fraud is to follow these five steps:
How to Report Consumer Fraud
- Gather and review all of the information that the scammer provided you as well as any other documents you may have, including proof of purchases, receipts, contracts, etc. Ensure that the documentation backs up the claim that you have been defrauded.
- Contact the company in question. Call them and follow up with an email or letter explaining why you feel you have been scammed and why you deserve your money back.
- If the situation has not been rectified, file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The easiest way to do this is to call them at 877-382-4357. You can also find additional information on their website (www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm) on how to file a complaint online.
- Report the scammer to the Better Business Bureau then follow the directions. You may have a problem; however, reporting most scam firms. Many of these companies will change their names through dba’s and try and hide their true corporate identities from BBB’s and the public. Last year, we found out that one of these scam firms had over 400 lawsuits filed against its 42 pretend or disguised organizations!
- Consider filing a civil suit in court. Note that many of these companies will have contracts that hold legal jurisdiction in their state of corporation so you may not be able to sue them in your home town.
The best way to prevent from having to track down and pursue these unscrupulous thieves is to avoid doing business with them in the first place. Look through our website carefully and educate yourself on how to identify grant scams so that you can avoid them.