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True Crime Thursday – Federal Gas Relief


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Pa Debbie Burke


Something for nothing this is the lure that attracts many people to the scam. Even more insidious are those that promise an honest solution to the problem. If there is a law on the issue, the scam becomes even more compelling.

The skyrocketing gasoline prices have set the scene for enterprising fraudsters who never let a good crisis go to waste.

Lawyer Steve Weismanthe creator Scamicide.com, is consistently at the forefront of new scams popping up faster than mushrooms after rain. (His alerts spawned several True Crime Thursday message, and he kindly agreed to be quoted again.)

The last scam he highlighted is this Federal Fuel Assistance Program.

But there is no such program.

The FTC is reporting an increase in calls, emails and texts purporting to be from government officials offering rebates or aid checks to cushion the impact of high gas prices.

According to Steve: “All you have to do, they tell you, is provide personal and financial information to be eligible for the program.”

Sounds simple, right? It’s easy for scammers to steal your information for further fraud.

Why do people keep falling for these tricks? Because it’s getting more and more confusing to parse the actual facts from the news/rumor mill.

It’s even more complicated when some municipalities actually pay rebates like the one described in this article GoBankingRates.com:

The city of Chicago has already begun issuing some of the 50,000 $150 prepaid gas cards and 100,000 $50 travel cards approved by the City Council.

North Carolina and California have similar legislation. California residents can qualify for up to $1,050 in benefits.

The proposed Gasoline Rebate Act of 2022 is currently being debated in the U.S. House of Representatives, potentially with payments of $100 per month or more to eligible households during each month when average gasoline prices exceed $4 per gallon.

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Whether these or other proposals will pass remains up in the air. Some remain just hot air.

But people often assume that they have come into effect. The next thing they know, a friendly, helpful “civil servant” is calling and offering to speed up the process. Just confirm your social security number and bank account number so they can deposit the discount directly.

Steve’s catchphrase “Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” This includes a caller ID that claims to be the IRS or Social Security on the line, or a link in an official email or text that takes you to a fraudulent website pretending to be a government agency.

Scammers continue to improve their tactics and become more sophisticated and convincing in their scams.

Warn family and friends, especially the elderly who are prime targets, NEVER to give out personal information when someone calls, emails or texts without first verifying that the sender is legitimate.

The federal irrigation assistance program is pure flatulence. The only recourse is to hang up or hit delete.


TKZers: What was the last scam you or someone you know was the target of?

Feel free to share horror stories. The more we know, the less likely we are to become victims.


Please watch my thriller The Pursuit of Midas about a glamorous con artist who targets a jaded millionaire with nine wild cats.


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