Social Media Solicitations for Grants or Prizes from Cumberland-Based Community Trust Foundation Are Scams
The Community Trust Foundation, based in Cumberland, Maryland, is advising the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division that online messages enticing people to apply for grants from its foundation are fake.
The invitations to apply for the non-existing grants have appeared as messages from Facebook “friends” whose profiles have actually been hijacked and duplicated so that the scam seems legitimate. Other scam targets have been contacted via text if their phone numbers were attached to their Facebook profiles. The scam messages use the Foundation’s name or acronym (CTF) or variation of its acronym such as “CFT”, logo, and pictures to solicit money from individuals under the guise that they have “won” a large grant or will be given large amounts of money for personal use.
In one case, the scammers asked a victim to buy gift cards worth hundreds of dollars just to apply for a grant, and then required the victim to also buy gift cards to pay for insurance and taxes. The scammer also asked the victim to send them a copy of the victim’s driver’s license. No legitimate organization would require fees for a grant to be paid by gift card or prepaid debit card. Legitimate organizations that award grants also do not ask for upfront payment for insurance or taxes.
The Community Trust Foundation does NOT grant money to individuals. The foundation awards grants to 501(c)(3) organizations and agencies in Allegany and Garrett Counties in Maryland and in Mineral County, West Virginia.
If you receive a Facebook or text message inviting you to apply for a grant from the Community Trust Foundation, take these steps to avoid becoming a victim of the scam:
- First, even if the invitation appears to come from someone you know, ignore it and inform your friend that you believe their Facebook account has been compromised.
- Do not give out any personal or financial information or send them money (in any form—cash, gift cards, wire transfer, prepaid debit cards) regardless of how much money they promise you.
- Do not send anyone claiming to be from Community Trust Foundation copies of your driver’s license.
- File a complaint with the Attorney General’s office at marylandattorneygeneral.gov.
- If you need help determining if an email, text message, social media message, or advertisement is a scam, call the Attorney General’s Consumer hotline at 410-528-8662 or email email@example.com. Visit our website for other consumer publications that can help you avoid becoming a victim of a scam or fraud: https://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/CPD/Tips-Publications/edunit.aspx.
Article reprint from the Maryland Attorney General Consumer Alert Protection Division
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