Beware of Scam Grants!

There’s a new grant scam going around. Be on the lookout for unsolicited “awards” that come out of the blue. Criminals have figured out that researchers and nonprofits are a) desperately seeking funding, and b) good people who want to continue their work and won’t necessarily look a gift horse in the mouth! After all, that’s what research administrators are for!

Here’s how it works: You receive an unsolicited email from someone saying that you are receiving an award.  You may recognize the name as someone in your field; they’ve gotten good at picking a real person to imitate so that you don’t suspect. On the surface, it looks legit! Then a check arrives, except it’s for more than they promised you! They tell you it’s a mistake, and you must return the overage, so, being the good citizen that you are, you do so right away.. except the award check bounces around the same time your “overage” check clears. You (or your institution) is out by the amount of the overage, and the scammers have won!

This scam first showed up here in Virginia, according to Non Profit Quarterly, and has since spread to other states.

The take away message here: always involve your research administrator and/or your development officer (Bethanie Constant, if you’re in CHS!), and let us vet and verify any unsolicited grants or gifts!

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