Beware of ‘$3,600 Homeowners Stimulus’ Facebook Scam – Community News
Stimulus Check

Beware of ‘$3,600 Homeowners Stimulus’ Facebook Scam

We advise all readers, as well as their friends and family, to beware of Facebook ads promising a “$3,600 incentive for homeowners.” The posts include photos of US President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and members of Congress.

It is incorrect to say that Biden and Congress passed a stimulus for homeowners, as Facebook ads claimed, whether it was $3,600, $3,600 or some other amount.
Examples of the Facebook ads.

The ads gave the appearance that Biden and the US government had approved a plan to pay $3,600 incentive checks to help homeowners. The images and text looked and may have felt similar to the previous COVID-19 economic impact payments and child tax credits Americans became familiar with in 2020 and 2021. Those payments came directly from the Internal Revenue Service.

However, there is no federal plan to distribute $3,600 incentive checks to homeowners.

GovHomePrograms.com

Facebook users who clicked on the ads were directed to websites that were not operated by the government. From there, they all seemed to lead to a central page: GovHomePrograms.com. This website contained a short survey with questions about finances, home value and mortgage status. The forms also asked for a name, email, phone number, and mailing address.

We filled out the forms and were then directed to one or more lenders who could help prospective homeowners buy a home or current homeowners refinance a mortgage. There was no evidence that the Facebook ads led to homeowners getting a $3,600 incentive payment from the government.

According to GovHomePrograms.com’s terms of service and privacy policy pages, its parent company was RateMarketplace.com. Plateau Data Services, LLC was also mentioned in the documentation.

Facebook pages

As of December 7, 2021, three Facebook pages named Wise American Solution, Clever American Choices, and Our Best American Life had spent nearly $66,000 in less than 30 days promoting the ads.

The Facebook pages and associated websites were all brand new and were created in November 2021. Another page called Helpers Today also had similar ads about a “homeowners incentive.”

A few hours after we started researching Clever American Choices, the Facebook page was no longer available. It’s unclear why this happened within those few hours and not at some point in previous weeks. According to the ad information, Clever American Choices was “removed” for violating Facebook’s advertising policy. It had spent at least $45,209 on Facebook ads between November 21 and December 7.

$10 billion in aid

After clicking on one of the Facebook ads and landing on a website, we saw this post at the bottom: “THIS IS AN ADVERTORIAL AND NOT A REAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE.”

We also found a list of “disclaimers” in small print well below the end of most of the page’s body that was intended “for Facebook reviewers and third-party fact-checkers.”

One of the lines tried to clarify why words like “government” and “Biden” were used in the copy:

5. “Government”, “Biden”, “New Government”, “Relief” – take multiple quotes from the following article below:

“Biden’s $10 billion in financial aid is expected to be available in 2022.”

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-signed-10-billion-mortgage-13300243.html

It is true that the Biden administration has previously established a Homeowners Assistance Fund intended to “provide states with $10 billion to help struggling homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments and energy costs.” It is also true that as of November 2021, aid was still being provided by several states. But nowhere in this plan did we find anything about a $3,600 homeowner incentive plan in the same way as previous incentive checks, as the Facebook ads pointed out.

Remarks

One of the Clever American Choices posts originally read, “This was featured on FoxNews [sic] last night. All I did was enter my zip code and now I’m getting $3,600 in savings back. It was free to check, just enter Zip!”

A seemingly endless number of Facebook users then submitted their zip codes in the comments below the ads rather than on the resulting website, perhaps assuming it would lead to them being contacted for a check for $ 3,600 to be received.

It is incorrect to say that Biden and Congress passed a stimulus for homeowners, as Facebook ads claimed, whether it was $3,600, $3,600 or some other amount.
Not only did this ad show a fake “Homeowner Relief Card,” but members of the cabinet of former US President Donald Trump can be seen in the photo taken in Congress.

Aside from the zip code comments, the most liked comments caught our eye. For example, a user named Jackie said, “This was on CNN yesterday, so I think I might try it since my neighbors already have theirs.”

We found no data from CNN or Fox News recently broadcasting news of a specific $3,600 incentive for homeowners. Also, no one’s “neighbors” have gotten a $3,600 incentive check yet, because they don’t exist.

It is incorrect to say that Biden and Congress passed a stimulus for homeowners, as Facebook ads claimed, whether it was $3,600, $3,600 or some other amount.
These comments probably convinced a lot of people to give away their personal information.

Ben commented: “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like it! Thank goodness I saw it today so I can sign up.”

Matt commented, “Heard about this program form [sic] my neighbour. They got the check yesterday so I tried it and got a notification that my check will be here this week!”

It is unclear whether these people worked for the websites or companies associated with the posts.

BBB and AARP

We have reached out to the Better Business Bureau and AARP for comments on these ads and websites. The Better Business Bureau responded, telling us that this is what they would call a classic “government scam scam”. In a study, they found that these types of scams increased in 2020 and 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic. They also sent out a page about government subsidy scams and a scam warning about incentives.

Basically, the $3,600 Facebook ads for homeowners simply seemed like a way to direct future homeowners to lenders or show current homeowners where to refinance their mortgage. With the Better Business Bureau’s guidelines for identifying this as a “government scam”, we have rated this story as a “Scam” accordingly.

This story will be updated when we receive a response from AARP.

sources:

Child tax credit advance payments in 2021 | tax authorities. https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/advance-child-tax-credit-payments-in-2021.

Biden signed $10 billion in homeowners mortgage assistance. Are you eligible? https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-signed-10-billion-mortgage-13300243.html.

Payment information center with economic impact | tax authorities. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.

“Factsheet: Biden Administration Announces Extension of COVID-19 Tolerance and Homeowner Foreclosure.” The White House, Feb. 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/02/16/fact-sheet-biden-administration-announces-extension-of-covid-19-forbearance-en -screening-protections-for-homeowners/.

Goldstein, Matthew. “Mortgage bills are coming again. $10 billion in aid could arrive first. The New York Times, Nov 18. 2021. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/18/business/mortgage-assistance-homeowners.html.

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