Free government grant scams and Facebook messenger impersonators targeting South Dakota consumers

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is advising South Dakota consumers to be on the lookout for online messages offering free grants.

In a press release, the Division of Consumer Protection said they've received several consumer calls relating to these scams and reports of contact from Facebook Messenger accounts not connected to Facebook pages.

The agency said individuals should be cautious of messenger contacts that are identified as “Using Messenger without Facebook”. These individuals can appear to be a friend, family member or even an elected official or well-known person.

If an individual were to follow these links, they may be asked for identifying information including items like name, address, phone number, driver’s license information, bank account information, or social security number.

"No one is immune from online impersonators, so it’s imperative you exercise caution while engaging with new people on social media platforms,” Ravnsborg said. “Online scammers frequently impersonate loved ones or publicly elected officials in an attempt to obtain personal information or take money from accounts. Remember that sources of grant money do not award grants to individuals for personal need, they are geared towards social necessities like preserving historic sites or funding community projects. Be careful and use caution online.”

Consumers are encouraged to contact the Division of Consumer Protection at 1-800-300-1986 or email consumerhelp@state.sd.us. if you think you have been a victim of a grant scam.