Scam Alert!

Published 9:16 am Thursday, August 7, 2014

(Editor’s note: The original posting of this story erred in the listing of a telephone number….1-202-470-3940. That number belongs to Educational Travel Adventures, a reputable firm with an office in Washington, DC. That number has been updated in this story to 1-202-470-3920, which is the correct listing as reported to the News-Herald but was inadvertently changed to 3940 due to a typographical error. The News-Herald apologizes to Educational Travel Adventures for any inconvenience caused by this typographical error.)


A local Hertford County woman said she was surprised upon learning she was approved for an $8,400 government grant.

After all, she didn’t apply for one.

On Wednesday, the local woman, who preferred not to be identified, contacted the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald to report she was the target of an apparent scam.

“I received a phone call; my caller ID listed it as a Washington, DC number,” she said. “I was informed that I was among the 15,000 recipients of a North Carolina Government Grant through the U.S. Treasury Department.”

She then asked if there were any fees she had to pay to receive the grant and was told there were none.

“It all sounded fishy for the simple reason that I had not applied for a grant,” she said. “I was told that my name was selected due to inactivity on my checking and savings account at my bank for the past six months and that I was low income. Well, at least they got the last part right because I’ve been unemployed for the past two years.”

The local woman was given a number to call (202-470-3920) and was directed to speak with Jennifer White, allegedly with the US Treasury Department.

“I played along and called that number and was connected with Jennifer White,” she stated. “I had trouble understanding her due to her thick, Arabic accent, but I did understand that I had to pay a $270 processing fee in order to receive the grant. I was told that $270 could be drafted from my checking account.”

What really troubled the local woman was that the person on the other end of the line had knowledge of her bank’s name and account’s routing number.

“That shocked me, so much to the point that I immediately called my bank and closed the account,” she said.

The original incoming call was from 202-666-4691. An online check of that number revealed a blog containing complaints from several individuals. Among them was one saying they were approved for a $7,000 grant; another claimed the caller told them they would be arrested for tax fraud; while another victim said they were told the IRS had filed criminal action against them for income tax evasion.

An online check of the second phone number also contained messages from individuals alleging to be fraud victims.

“I just wanted to get the word out to the people here in Hertford County and other local areas, especially the elderly, that this type of scam was going on,” she said. “I’m also going to contact the local police and make them aware of this scam.”

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald advised the woman to also contact the North Carolina Attorney General’s office and file a report.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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