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HUD watchdog warns of scammers offering phony housing grants

Scheme offers HUD grant money in exchange for upfront fee

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s watchdog is warning consumers to be on the lookout for a scam that promises HUD grant money in exchange for an upfront fee.

The fraud bulletin comes courtesy of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General, which says that it’s received a number of complaints from consumers who claim that they’ve been contacted by someone claiming to represent HUD who states that the consumer has been awarded a HUD grant.

In each case, the “HUD representative” asks the consumers for an upfront fee in order to process and secure a “HUD grant” for tens of thousands of dollars, but there is no grant money to be had.

According to the HUD-OIG, in four separate cases, the scammer used the same phone number, but used different names each time.

From the HUD-OIG bulletin:

  • January 5, 2016, a woman in California was a victim of an attempted scam when a person called her, claiming she had been awarded a $51,400 federal grant. All she needed to do was fax a copy of her identification to receive the money. The woman asked for the caller’s credentials and the caller provided her with the NY HUD Regional Office’s address. The caller went by Matthew Maxwell and gave his number as 315- 675-4146 x120.
  • March 22, 2016, a woman in Virginia was a victim of an attempted scam when a person called her, claiming she had been awarded a $48,450 federal grant. All she needed to do was send a $350 wire or certified check to cover fees. The caller went by Richard Johnson and gave his number as 315-675-4146 and reportedly had a foreign accent. The woman did not follow through.
  • May 26, 2016, a law firm representing a woman from Washington, DC, reported a woman had been scammed when a person called her, claiming she had been awarded a $48,500 grant. All the victim needed to do was wire $350 to them, using Western Union. After the victim sent funds she did not get her $48,500 in exchange. The caller went by Alice and her number was 315-675-4146.
  • On May 27, 2016, a man in California was the victim of an attempted scam, when someone claiming that to be from HUD called and instructed them to call back at 315-675-4146

HUD-OIG warns consumers to not accept or return phone calls from 315-675-4146, although it cautions that while the same phone number is being used currently, it is likely to change over time.

HUD-OIG also warns consumer to not give out any identity information by fax or over the phone to anyone offering you a grant.

“HUD will never email or call to ‘award’ you money,” the bulletin states.

The bulletin also tells consumers to never wire funds to cover the “fees” for a federal grant.

The bulletin also states that anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of a similar scheme should contact the HUD-OIG here to file a report.

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