Lehi woman says con artist used her cancer diagnosis to hook her in a grant scam

Apr 13, 2023, 8:35 PM | Updated: 8:40 pm

LEHI, Utah — Kelly Almquist is fighting cancer, and it is an expensive battle.

“Some of the PET (positron emission tomography) scans can be upwards of $8,000, and you have several within a year – not to mention the amount of treatments every day,” she said.

Kelly was eager to have any help she could get. So, when an acquaintance messaged her on Facebook with an idea, it caught her attention.

“’I know that you’re dealing with cancer, and I thought you might want to apply for this grant to help pay for medical bills,’” the message said.

The friend forwarded Kelly information about the grant from a hardship fund, and she sent a link.

“’I want you to go online and apply for it because I think you’d be really good candidate for it,’” the friend said. “And I was like, wow, I didn’t know there was such a thing.”

About midway through the application process, Kelly says she got a sudden feeling not everything was right. When Kelly told her friend she was holding off on sending more information, the friend got adamant.

“They said, ‘No, just go ahead and send the information.’” Kelly recalled. “And then when I said, ‘No, I’ll wait and talk to you on Sunday.’ And then they disappeared. I was like, ‘Oh, my soul.’”

Turns out, a scammer stole the identity of Kelly’s friend on Facebook and tried to hook her. Typically, they’ll ask victims to wire money to pay for a processing fee to receive the grant. Or they’ll ask for banking information so grant money can be transferred to their accounts, but they’ll just steal from those accounts.

Kelly caught on before that, but now she keeps getting contacted by scammers with promises of money.

“’Write me back, give me some information, and I can get you up to $37,000,’” said one such message.

Her advice for cancer patients? Talk to a loved one about any unsolicited offer of help.

“Have somebody else step in – your husband, your family member, your child – someone that might have a little bit less chemo fog going on step in to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t legit,’” Kelly said. “If you’re not the one that pursued the website, and I have not pursued something like that, people are not going to contact me to give me free money for bills. They’re just not.”

The easiest way to fight a grant scam is with a little research. Use a search engine to look up an organization to see if it is legitimate. Don’t rely on links. And if it is a federal grant, they are not going to contact you out-of-the-blue. The only way to get one, is to apply for it.

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Lehi woman says con artist used her cancer diagnosis to hook her in a grant scam