RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A warning for anyone who's ever thought about trying to apply for a government grant. The money is really there. The government is sitting on $500,000 and you don't have to pay for it. A local man figured out that the hard way.
The internet is teeming with website offering access to government grants. For just a few dollars that can turn into a lot more money. You get information; you really can get for free.
Like a lot of people, Jerome Malloy turned to the internet when he decided he wanted to start his own clothing business. His web surfing was a search for free money.
"I expected to just get information..." Jerome said.
Jerome landed on grants-360.com, which features a grant software kit and a big blue button that exclaims "Get my money!" He entered his information for a one-day trial for $1.95 and read the fine print.
"After which you will receive access to our full grants package. To cancel simply call 1-866-955-1669 within 24 hours. If you're happy, do nothing and $51.61 for 30 days of access will be charged," he said.
Jerome says that grants package was more access to nothing useful. He says he canceled the plan, but still had $57.61 taken off his card.
Grants360.com told us in part: "Mr. Malloy was not able to cancel within the 1-day trial period and that's why he got billed. And this mostly happen to members who forgot to cancel the trial subscription and they claim that it's fraud because they were billed for the full membership. This information was clearly stated on the website's terms and conditions, also on the join page, where they put in their credit card details."
"As with everything else, you have to work for it, absolutely," Marion Horsley said.
We went to Marion Horsley at the state Office of Consumer Affairs. She says if you want money from the government, you should go to the government.
"Don't give your personal financial information out to anybody who asks you for it unless you know who they are and you trust them implicitly," said Horsley.
She also recommends the website, grants.gov. You can't get grants for personal use, but if you're like Jerome, looking to start a business, this website will point in not only the right direction, but the safest one.
"It's a big, long process. The government, we're talking government here, is not going to make it easy for you. They need to know everything about you. They need to know how you're going to use it. You need to stack up against a bunch of other people who are looking for these grants," she said.
For more information about government grants, visit www.grants.gov or the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt134.shtm.