Free Grant Money—A Sham Site from Grant Instructor LLC
Time for a look at another bogus government grant site, and as we'll repeat each time we write about these scam sites, there's only one site for federal grants, and it's www.grants.gov. Although the FTC has been warning consumers about these scams since 2006, they've been proliferating like cockroaches after passage of President Obama's stimulus package, with scammers trying to lure financially desperate consumers with promises of easy money free for the asking.
Last week, we took a look at GovenmentGrantsOnline.us, a site that purports to review these sites, and dissected its top-rated site, GrantLine Professional. As we pointed out last week, GrantLinePro.com turned out to be a particularly egregious site, thanks to its blind-registered domain, some scathing reviews on Ripoff Report, and a failing grade from the Better Business Bureau. And this was GovenmentGrantsOnline.us' five-star "top choice."
Unfortunately, we can't refer to the site by its domain name, which is quite a mouthful: https://ssl.encryptedprocessing.com/~grantchecknow.com/index.php?refer=cc2&pubid=&subid=35749. We looked up grantchecknow.com (which redirects to the above URL) on WHOIS, and to no surprise, found it to be blind-registered. There's also no name in the browser bar, beyond "Mozilla Firefox," which hardly inspires confidence.
Filling out the form for our Grant CD with took us to an order page, where we were given the option of Instant Access ($1.95) having the CD mailed to us. ($2.95 S+H). There was also this fine print:
Pretty poor English for a site based at least partially in the UK. And $68.13 is certainly a novel amount. But we still wanted to know just who we're doing business with, and we found the answer on the terms & conditions page. Although it wasn’t easy to spot, and only mentioned twice, we now had a name: Grant Instructor LLC.
First stop, Ripoff Report, which boasted no less than 25 complaints from angry consumers, with headlines such as:
Grant Instructor LLC HUGE RIP OFF! THIEVES!
What a rip off by a bunch of THIEVES!.. They say it's only $1.95 for their limited info. What they don't tell you is that if you don't cancel within 7 Days they'll charge you $49.50 a month thereafter! I thought I was lucky enough to have seen comments on this company from other people before my 7 days was up. I called to cancel and they assured me I wouldn't be charged. When it was finalized in their system I would get an e-mail stating so. They said it could take several days but I called in time so there was no problem. WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!! I just saw my credit card statement and wondered why I was over my limit. Now I know why. They still charged my card the $49.50 and now I also have a $39.00 charge for going over my credit limit!
Grant Instructor LLC An erroneous charge of 49.50 & no one to answer phone calls. How convenient
I was looking online for grant writing information and the Grant Instructor LLC offered a one sheet page of information for $1.00. I received my credit card bill yesterday only to discover I was charged $1.09 AND $49.50 which was unbeknownst to me. I have tried calling them several times at 888-276-8105 and if you choose option 3 to cancel you are told to go online yet there isn't one single place to cancel online. I have called many times over choosing the other two options available and you end up with a recording that eventually disconnects the call.
Saint Albans, West Virginia
-Grant Instructor LLC Bait-and-Switch
Grant Instructor LLC is using Bait and Switch to defraud persons thinking they had ordered a $2.95 CD. The CD was to help find grants and monies to start new business. When you purchased the CD, automatically you are enrolled in a so-called monthly magazine at $49.50 per month! I was shocked to find the expense on my bank statement.
Glen Rose, Texas
With so many complaints we figured the Better Business Bureau would probably have something to say, and we weren't disappointed. The BBB gives Grant Instructor LLC a failing grade, which may have something to do with the 641 complaints filed against the company in the past 36 months, which include:
* 623 - Unauthorized credit card charges
* 9 - Unauthorized bank debits
* 1 - Failure to provide itemized billing as requested
* 2 - Refund or Exchange Issues
* 1 - Product Issues
* 1 - General Product Quality Complaint Issues
* 4 - Customer Service Issues
* 4 - Inappropriate behavior by customer service personnel