Scam alert: People impersonating United Way staff offering cash grants in exchange for personal information

WICHITA, Kan., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 — Recently two United Ways, one in Pennsylvania and another in Alabama, reported similar occurrences where individuals were duped by scammers claiming to be associated with United Way. While the scams were not identical, they did include striking similarities:

  • The scammers either masqueraded as the victim’s Facebook friend, or they claimed the victim’s Facebook friends as references;
  • They offered the victims cash grants, claiming they are eligible under “Federal trust funds” or some other official-sounding program;
  • To receive the grant, the victim had to complete an application that included driver’s license details, bank account information, mother’s maiden name, credit card information, and social media login credentials. (Click here for a recent exchange between a scammer and a victim.)

No United Way would contact individuals with a grant offer. It is highly unusual for any charity to do this. If individuals get an offer like this, they should contact their local United Way immediately before providing any information (in the Wichita metro area, call United Way of the Plains at 316-267-1321).

Here are some tips from experts to protect against scams:

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails or calls from anyone with an offer of grants.
  • If you do get contacted, ask for the caller’s contact information and let them know you’ll call them back. Call the organization directly (not the number you were given) to confirm the identity of anyone who has contacted you.
  • Never provide personal information in response to unsolicited offers of assistance.
  • Check your social media account settings to limit what others can view about you.
  • Limit access to your Friends list on Facebook, because that’s a data source regularly used by scammers to win your trust and confidence.
  • Get the latest on online scams from the Federal Trade Commission here.


MEDIA CONTACT: Delane Butler, Vice President of Marketing, (316) 267-1321,


Published On: September 10, 2019


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