Scammer tells woman she'd won $10K federal grant for paying taxes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman said a scammer tried to trick her into sending him money in exchange for more than $10,000.

Melinda Hicks said the scammer called her Saturday claiming she had won a grant from the government for having a clean record.

"If it sounds too good, it is too good," Hicks said.

Hicks said the first caller told her she won a grant from the government for $10,200 because she pays her taxes.

The person asked for account information so the deposit could be made into her account, and told her to call his supervisor.

"At first he wanted bank information, and now I know this is fake," Hicks said. "So I wanted to see how far it would go, so I gave him a prepaid credit card number that I don't use."

Then she spoke to a man who told her she needed to pay about $138 for state taxes.

"I told him, 'No, you know, first of all Florida doesn't have a state tax, so I wouldn't be paying state taxes on it, and second of all this is a scam, and I'm not sending you a dime,'" Hicks said. "He became enormously enraged, just yelling and screaming and angry that I was wasting his time and not to call him again, and then he hung up on me."

One of the things that tipped her off was that the government doesn't just give out grants if you don't apply for them.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said he sees these cases far too often.

"That's a big deal. You never give anyone your banking information," Smith said. "That happens so often, people get that information and they can go into your account and do all types of things, and everyone can be a victim of this."

So if you get a call like this, the best bet is to report it.

"In this case, contact the government agency by phone, not the phone number they provide, but another government phone number just to make sure that's it's something not legit," Smith said.

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