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121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333

Phone: 207-624-8527
Fax: 207-582-7699
Consumers-only toll-free: 1-800-DEBT-LAW (1-800-332-8529)

Contact: David M. Leach, Principal Examiner
(207) 624-8527

Friday, March 3, 2006

Maine Consumers Targeted in Bogus Government Grant Scam

State consumer credit regulators today issued an urgent warning to Maine citizens to beware of fraudulent offers for government grants.

Consumers from all around Maine have called state officials to report that telemarketers have offered them thousands of dollars of government grant money. The callers then ask the consumers to wire funds for taxes or processing fees, or the callers request the consumers' bank account numbers so that a fee can be deducted. The promised grant funds are never delivered.

“The Maine Office of Consumer Credit Regulation has received a significant number of calls from Maine citizens who have been solicited by out-of-state and foreign telemarketers," reported Dave Leach, Principal Examiner of the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation. "In exchange for a fee sent by the consumer electronically or by overnight mail, the callers promise tens of thousands of dollars of free grant money, which never arrive. These unscrupulous telemarketers, many from Canada, prey on consumers who may need funds to pay off credit cards or to send a child to college. Not only do these promised funds never arrive, but the victims are fleeced out of hundreds of dollars in the process.”

The Office of Consumer Credit Regulation advises consumers to practice the following guidelines:

• Never disclose personal or financial information to an unknown telephone solicitor.
• Never wire funds or send funds by overnight mail in order to get a loan or government grant.
• If you are tricked into giving out information, report the incident to your bank, and close all affected bank accounts immediately.

Report any suspicious activity to the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation, 624-8527 or the Office of the Attorney General, 626-8849.

The Maine Office of Consumer Credit Regulation was established in 1975 to enforce a variety of credit-related consumer laws. The Office licenses lenders, creditors and collectors; conducts periodic examinations of creditors to determine compliance with state laws; and responds to consumer complaints and inquiries. The Office also conducts educational seminars and provides speakers to advise consumers and creditors of their legal rights and responsibilities.