Monday, March 23, 2009

Stimulus Scams

It appears that nothing is sacred; if there is an opportunity to make money, certain people will take it. Some people, however, have already taken advantage of the stimulus package and are targeting failing small businesses. By making claims that they will be earning a chunk of the stimulus money eventually, small business owners are tricked into believing that by making a small payment they will receive a list of federal grants. What they don’t know about are the alarming number of other charges they will receive.

There are ways of spotting a scam-artist when it comes to the stimulus money. “We started seeing these ads pop up online, promising people could get $10,000, even before the stimulus package was passed,” Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Alison Southwick recently told the LA Times.

There are sites such as that are reporting scams that involve buying a CD on obtaining government grants for only $1.98. People are reporting that once the CD has been bought unauthorized charges ranging from $30-$70 have been made on their accounts. One way that you can spot a scammer is if the person approaches you first. A good government contractor consultant knows that the right person will find you. For instance, Gateway to Government has a blog, twitter, Linkedin, facebook, and other ways to contact us in order to ask for help. We aren’t promoting our services yet. Because we know the ins and outs of the industry, we’re interested giving out free information on how small businesses throughout the US can have Uncle Sam be their customer. We don’t make promises about “free money” from the government, but rather, we offer solutions to working more effectively with the government.

These scammers are making large promises with no real proof. Statements such as “Jennifer in WA got her grant check for $10,000… Click Here to Find Out How,” or “FREE GRANT MONEY” should be clear signals that something is wrong. Another common problem is that once your check has cleared, they “disappear” and are unreachable. We’re a real business and you can contact us night or day. It’s hard for businesses such as ourselves to be able to claim “We’re not a scammer” when the scammers use similar marketing tactics to gain people. Another way of spotting a scammer is if their company is not based out of the US. Many of these scammer “companies” are in the Philippines or other countries.

One of the key things to remember is that things aren’t always as they seem online. Dig a little deeper and if you can’t find out more about the business, registered business name, contact information, or even an e-mail address something isn’t right. Also, for blogs, make sure there are actual posts in them. If there are only a few entries, all involving how much money ‘Jessica’ made, it’s a throwaway blog. Remember: even when a contractor works with the government during a contract, the payment isn’t immediate. There is always a waiting period. Don’t trust ads that promise an immediate pay out or grants. Just like when you’re writing a bid, you need to do a little research to make sure everything is in order.

We offer this blog free because we want everyone to know about the joys of Uncle Sam working for you. While we want small businesses to enjoy the benefits of working with Gateway to Government, we don’t actively promote aside from social media sites where you can talk directly with me or one of my co-workers. One of the major problems of scammers is that legitimate businesses such as Gateway to Government are being hurt. The scam-artists use similar tactics to gain people’s trust and give other companies that actually care about their clients a bad name.

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