This scam is deep! Multi-level, multi-messenger and long-game.
“USAID”: The United States Agency for International Development is an independent agency of the United States federal government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. Wikipedia
Here’s how the scam works.
Apparently, our poor, unsuspecting friend on Facebook had their account breached and their messenger hijacked.
We knew this because we had never seen a message from them before – the “friend” just launched into a conversation about this wonderful USAID Grant and the agent to talk to about it.
The initiated conversation, gut reaction, the particulars in the English and grammar all helped to give it away as a scam.
After a quick conversation with our “friend”, an “agent” then reaches out to us – a conversation continues with the agent even verifying our (fake) information in their database, putting our (fake) name into an image of the database, sending video testimonials and more.
Of course, the crunch comes when we’re asked to pay a processing fee for the grant funds – the more we pay, the more we’re going to get. How do we pay this processing fee? With iTunes Gift Cards of course! (because the Government loves iTunes cards?!), because our scammer is extra polite though, we were kindly given the option of taking a picture of the front and back of our credit card to expedite the filing fee deposit (nice of them, right?).
Both of these conversations happened over a number of days with purposeful pauses and specifically timed messages.
The two conversations are rather long but well worth a read.
“S” is the scammer. “U” is the user.
As you read through, you can see how the scammer believes they have the user hooked and works to drop the “delivery” and “clearance:” fees in there, making the user believe that they’re ever on the winning side. $500 for a $10,000 grant?! what a deal! (and all paid for with only 5, $100 iTunes Gift Cards).
Before we go on, this is a good time to remind you to never give out personal information, financial information, login information…. or any information to anyone seemingly approaching you online with an opportunity that is certainly too good to be true.
While it’s fun to play with scammers, we won’t recommend it. We’re professionals with secure machines and training enough to keep the scammers busy.
S: “Hope you heard about the lately ongoing USAID grant program also”
U: “What about it?”
S: “USAID federal government grant are helping the old, you,retired, disable, workers and the people who want to start their own business and I got $20,000 from them.”
U: “Oh ok”
S: “And It’s their agent that I text that help me check my eligibility and she took me through the whole clearance and processing
Though its not that they are giving it not everyone but only the selected people that their name is on their database..but I’m thinking you should also apply for it if you will be eligible.”
U: “Tell me more” S: “Maybe I should share you the agent link of the agent that help me with mine or number she will tell you more about it and check for you too”
U: “Yeah please do”
S: “https://m.me/[ADDRESS REMOVED]”
“That’s the agent Link that help me click on it and message her to check your eligibility and I’m suggesting your name to her also now
Do you get that?”
U: “I did.”
“It will be better you click on it and message her first because she might be busy to contact you herself”
The fake “agent” profile – using the picture of a current US Congresswoman.
Hello one of our recent winner suggested your name to me that you also want to check your eligibility and apply for the USAID Grant program.
Am I right ?”
U: “Yes that’s right“
S: “Okay that’s good let me tell you more about our Grant.”
U: “You can tell me more”
S: (obviously copied and pasted) “This is Federal Government Grant,this program was established by the Federal Government with the conjunction of USAID to help people in the society to meet up their needs and want .This is specifically place for those who need assistance paying for bills, buying a home, starting their own business, going to school, or even helping raise their children with old and retired people e.t.c. and our mission is to end extreme poverty while advancing the security and prosperity of the United States.This is Grant not a Loan ,once you qualify for it your grant money will get to you ,more so you don’t need to pay it back and a certificate will be issued to you.
Here is one of our testimonies video.”
This is legal and legit set up by the government with the help and support of the USAID to help the people in the country,kindly give me your full name to check if your name is available on our DataBase.
Kindly give me your full name to check if your name is available on our database.”
U: “FAKE NAME REMOVED”
S: “Okay hold let me check if your name is available on our DataBase.
sure enough, our fake name was in the image
S: “We found your name among the list available on our database here but you will have to do some clearance and will need to confirm some information from you before we can know it is truly you and start making your Grant document,as the information required are duly fill and confirm.
Full name…….. Full Home Address…… Male/Female……. Your Age….. Married/Single….. Text Phone……. E-mail…….. Monthly income…. What do you do for living……… Do you Own a house …. Do you want cash or Check….”
U: “ok – wow great. What do you need from me?”
S: “Accurate information is required for an evaluation,we respect your privacy and we will not sell your informations to the third parties. You can fill it here just one after the order.”
U: [“Accurate” FAKE INFORMATION REMOVED]
S: “kindly hold while we verify.
Your application was forwarded to delivery department after the due processing by the administrative department,it shows that you are qualify to receive the grant and your grant has been confirmed,you will have to choose the amount you wish to claim from us in the list that will be provided to you below and you will pay for the clearance fee. We will make every effort to process your order and once you can make it to pay the fee we will send to you one of our delivery agent and one UPS officer to deliver your grant winning money at your doorstep within 48hours.
We will like to let you know that the money is tax free which you don’t have to pay it back and a certificate will be issue to you showing and telling you the money is tax free which you are to show our delivery agent which will be given to you in few hours.
These are your IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS: BATCH #…WB/8056490902 REF #….USG/575061725 WINNING #…FGG/USA/U.S.A/2018
Make sure you keep all your delivery info,Let it be safe and secure and don’t give or share the info with anybody.More so do not disclose your winning to anyone yet not until you get your grant successfully delivered to your home, we say this to ensure real winners get their grant, we have had situations where other people claim what is not theirs and some robbery situation.
Do you understand ?”
U: “Absolutely understand”
“You are to choose an amount you wish to claim from us,then you are to pay the clearance fee. This clearance Fee covers the certificate fee, documents fee and delivery fee . You pay $500 and get $10,000.00 You pay $1,000 and get $20,000.00 You pay $2,000 and get $50,000,00. You pay $3,000 and get $70,000,00. You pay $3,500 and get $95,000.00 You pay $4,500 and get $120,000.00 You pay $5,550 and get $170,000.00 You pay $6,550 and get $220,000.00 You pay $7,250 and get $270,000.00 Final you pay $10,000 get $400,000.00.
Kindly choose from the grant list the amount you wish to claim.”
U: “I think I can do the $50000”
S: “Ok sir”
“are you ready to make the payment of the $2000.00 now so we can give you our available cashier details and start the document processing of your Grant.”
U: “Ok. I can get that soon. Where do I send it? Who do I make it payable to?”
S: “Sir the bank will have close already to make payment now but you will have to make a deposit of at least 500 today to go start the document processing and the paperwork with our easier method.”
U: “How can I pay the 500?”
S: “Do you have a Walmart store or Grocery store close to you ?”
S: “When you get to the Walmart you are to get an iTunes card of $500 and after you get them I will instruct you what to do.”
U: “Ok I’ll see if I can leave work soon to go and get that”
“Okay sir and make sure you get a maximum card of 100×5 that is get an iTunes gift card of 5 at $100 each.
Do you understand that ?”
U: “Makes sense”
S: “Ok or do you have a credit card or debit card ?”
S: “Sir kindly take a picture of the front and back of the credit card so I can forward that to the cashier department.”
U: “But what about Walmart?”
S: “I want to forward the credit card to the cashier department first if they will be able to deduct your clearance fee on it to save you stress of going to Walmart.”
U: “I’d rather do Walmart o think. Not very comfortable sending my card info”
S: “Sir you don’t have to doubt us here because our aim and mission is to help the standard of living of the people in the country.
Kindly take a picture of the front and back of the credit card so I can forward that to the cashier department and if they are unable to deduct it from it I will let you know immediately.”
U: “You told me Walmart first – I think I’ll do that if that’s ok. I can go soon”
S: “Alright sir you can do that.”
“Make sure you keep all your delivery info,Let it be safe and secure and don’t give or share the info with anybody.More so do not disclose your winning to anyone yet not until you get your grant successfully delivered to your home, we say this to ensure real winners get their grant, we have had situations where other people claim what is not theirs and some robbery situation.”
U: “Yes, you said that already.”
“Is there any way you can check that I am eligible? Is all of my information in your system? I just want to check before I get the cards.”
S: “Sure we have all this information on our system as you can see your name among the list of our winners,if you are not eligible for this you can never find your name on the list.”
U: “Ok great. That’s great news :)”
S: “Ok sir we will be waiting for you.”
Wait while we head to Walmart to pick up our iTunes gift cards…..