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Scammer Uses Facebook Messenger, Impersonates Utah AG

August 16, 2019

Recently, scammers impersonating Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes have contacted victims through Facebook Messenger offering a grant worth thousands of dollars — for a small fee. The scammer directed the victim to a bogus personal page where they went through a series of grant application questions. Once the application was “approved”, the victims sent payment and received a grant check in return. The check bounced, of course, but by then the scammer had disappeared, along with the victim’s money.

Another victim reported that the scammer supplied a phone number that the victim could use to contact “Sean Reyes” further. The victim contacted us worried that the grant offer was fraudulent, and we were able to confirm that neither our office nor the Attorney General, were involved in this and that it was indeed a scam.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have heard of a scam of this nature. In September 2018, we released a similar warning regarding a scammer who was impersonating the Utah Attorney General through Facebook Messenger. Our team of Investigators is working diligently to put an end to these scams.

At this time, we would like to emphasis our tips to protect yourself from fraud, and especially of the following if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  1. Don’t wire money.

True lotteries, sweepstakes, or grants awarded do not ask for money – not for shipping and handling, taxes, or customs. State officials and agencies do not typically ask people to send money for prizes, grants, unpaid loans, or to avoid being thrown in jail. When they do, they follow a formalized process.

  1. Stop and think.

With any online or phone transaction that you conduct, always look up the business or entity online to make sure they are reputable. This goes for anyone asking for money or personal information. Technology makes it easy for scammers to alter their identity and assume someone else’s. If the offer references a state agency or official, contact the respective office through a confirmed phone number or email to verify its validity before moving forward. You can also check with the Utah Consumer Protection Division and the Utah Better Business Bureau to see if the person/organization is credible.

  1. Do not share your financial or personal information.

If you receive a call about a debt that you believe may be legitimate, contact that business or entity directly. Whether it’s over the phone, email, social media, or in person, don’t give out your personal information. This includes banking and financial information, your birthdate, and social security number.

  1. Contact us. 

If you receive a message, call, or email from someone claiming to be someone from our office or any other official, please contact our office to report and verify whether or not it is real at 801-281-1200 or uag@agutah.gov. 

Scam artists abound: Don’t fall for it.

Did someone contact you from the AG’s Office asking for money? 

It probably wasn’t us. It was a scam.

Don’t send them anything.  Call us instead: 801-281-1200.

Scam #1: Bogus Grant Program
Recently, scammers impersonating the attorney general have contacted victims through Facebook Messenger offering a grant worth thousands of dollars — for a small fee (see the screenshot, below). The scammer directed the victim to a bogus personal page where they went through a series of grant application questions. Once the application was “approved”, the victims sent payment and received a grant check in return. The check bounced, of course, but by then the scammer had disappeared, along with the victim’s money.

Scam #2: Arrest Warrant 
Just this week, someone impersonated the Utah Solicitor General and told a victim he had a warrant for his arrest.  The scammer said the victim would go to jail unless they sent personal information and a payment.  The scammer then used this information to drain the rest of the victim’s accounts. 

These are just two recent examples of many creative scams out there.  The goal in each case is the same: to fool you into sending money. Don’t do it. 

You can beat the scammers. Here’s how. 

1. Don’t wire money.
True lotteries, sweepstakes, or grants awarded do not ask for money – not for shipping and handling, taxes, or customs. State officials and agencies do not typically ask people to send money for prizes, grants, unpaid loans, or to keep from being thrown in jail. When they do, they follow a very formal process that you would recognize as legit.

2. Take a moment and think before you do anything.
Check with a trusted friend, family member, or your local Better Business Bureau. If the offer references a state agency or official, contact the respective office to verify its validity before moving forward. Do not let anyone bully you. If that starts, hang up. Report scams to law enforcement.

3. Do not share your financial or personal information. Ever. 
If you receive a call about a debt that you believe may be legitimate, call that company directly.

4. Don’t trust a name or number. 
No matter what name they use or how official an offer may sound, scammers lie. Also, scammers can disguise their number to look more legit. Often, calling the number back results in a message of “this number is not in use”. 

No matter what, don’t send money. You won’t get the grant. You will not be thrown in jail. You won’t get it back. 

5. Contact us.  If you receive a message, call, or email from someone claiming to be someone from our office or any other official, please contact our office to report and verify whether or not it is real.  We sometimes collect money following a court decision but we rarely do it by phone. We don’t do it via social media. You can contact us at 801-281-1200 or uag@agutah.gov. 

 

Screenshot of a bogus grant program. Report this to us. Do not send money. 

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