Grant scam on Facebook ripping off Chicagoans

In a FOX 32 special report: a new social media scam targeting your wallet.

Sites like Facebook can be great for staying in touch, but what if your "friend" is actually a hacker trying to lure you into handing over money?

“I felt horrible, I started crying, I was totally shaking to tell you the truth,” said Angelina Lira.

Lira says the sinking feeling started just minutes after she sent over the money.

“I couldn't believe that I had done that. I fell for it,” Lira said.

Her $4,000 cashier's check was supposed to go to a so-called government agent, and Lira was supposed to get a $200,000 grant in return.

“It was a scam,” she said.

A scam that her so-called friend tipped her off to on Facebook.

“I look at my phone, and I got a message from a friend,” Lira said.

Turns out, the account was hacked and the person she trusted was just an imposter.

Her savings she planned to use on a down payment are now down the drain.

“I wanted something that I can just stay in, I don't have to be moving,” Lira said.

She isn't alone.

“I received a chat message from a well-known alderman that I thought I knew,” said Bianca Covington.

Covington says the Facebook message came right when she thought she needed it. A man she thought she knew telling her about a government grant for people who have fallen on hard times.

“He said - you could be eligible for 100,000,” Covington said.

Covington lost her job a few months back and needed the money. All she had to do was pay $1,000 for insurance.

“I’m going in prayer, I’m trusting what you said to me,” Covington said.

Covington says after she sent the money, she got news the courier that was supposed to bring her the check was killed and that's when it all clicked.

“My heart drops, and right away, I go, you have scammed me,” she said.

The Better Business Bureau says it's received hundreds of fake grant complaints. It warns you should never pay any money, including taxes or insurance, for a "free" government grant.

And if you get a message from a friend that sounds too good to be true, pick up the phone and call them.

“I couldn't believe that I had done that. I fell for it,” Lira said. “Sometimes we're desperate and we just fall for it. It happened to me.”