Monday, 9 May 2016

My "new" blog funded by Canadian government "grant cheques"

It's often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, I did not expect to ever see my name used to promote some grant scheme where one could make $17,438.27 in just under two weeks.

During a random search, I came across a YouTube account bearing my full name. I only have one account that I use so I was surprised to see a video claiming to be created by me bearing a cheque with my full name.

Now, the video in question has a link to the blog itself (I will not link to it myself) which claims the following:
My life was going great... a great job working at a local engineering firm, a beautiful wife of 4 years and a young son. Sure we had some debt, but really, who doesn't? Then it happened, i lost my job! It was devastating, but the next day i was out looking for a new job. Weeks went by and as hard as i tried to find another job, no one, i mean no one was hiring! All the while our bills kept piling up and my mortgage payments were way behind. We really did think we were going to lose our home!
And then goes on to explain how this whole grant scheme:
One day after a job interview at a local coffee shop, i was about to sit down to enjoy a hot cup of java when i happened to bump into an old high school acquaintance. Turns out he worked for the provincial government and after explaining about my financial problems, he advised me to apply for Canadian Government Grants. I had heard about them but never really looked into it before. He explained that 90% of Canadians qualify for these grants but maybe only 5% of the population actually know about them. He gave me a website to look into and i didn't even finish my coffee, i just rushed home.
Convenient story. The last time I ran into someone from high school that told me of a financial scheme where I could make money, she tried to rope me into some multi-level marketing nonsense.

To add to this, how does one go from having worked at an engineering firm where you're gainfully employed enough to have a mortgage on a home to having needing to apply for a job at a coffee shop? I get that times are tough now in Calgary (where the author claims to be from), but this was written back in 2012 when oil prices were around $90 USD a barrel.

Rolling back here a bit, you might be wondering how a cheque bearing my name (with middle initial no less) made it online. For a bit, I was confused but then I remembered that back in 2003, I was filing my own taxes for the first time and was sent back a cheque for a grand total of $0.07 CAD. The humourous part was that the cost to mail it would have been $0.48 CAD. Since I found it funny, I scanned a copy of the cheque, edited out details, and then posted on a message board.

Years later, I got into the habit of editing Wikipedia to pass the time when I was living away from my hometown. When I came across the article on cheques, it at the time either had no images or didn't have enough so I decided to lend my previous scanned image. The easiest thing to assume here is that this individual decided to use the image in their video because it had a full name to make use of and fit their assumption of how convincing it would be.

I was able to confirm that this was my cheque because the monospace font matches the address I would have had at the time of the cheque's issuance. There are other people out there who have the same name as me, but it definitely was my image being used here.

Back to this whole grants nonsense, there are actual grants you can get as a business or an individual looking to run a business if you fall under some of the following as per this website with a horribly deceptive domain:
  • Employ PEI - as a PEI business owner, you can apply for a wage subsidy to hire and train eligible individuals for up to a year
  • Fuel Injection Program - your advanced manufacturing or social innovation business could access up to $30,000 in seed funding for growth projects in Southern Ontario
  • Self-Employment Assistance - if you are unemployed and want to create a job for yourself by starting your own business, you may be eligible for financial and entrepreneurial assistance
  • Sivummut Grants to Small Businesses - if you live in the Baffin (Qikiqtaaluk) region of Nunavut, you could get up to $25,000 to start or grow a business
  • B.C. Buy Local Program - if you are in the agriculture, agrifood or seafood sectors, you could receive funding up to $75,000
As you can see, there are plenty of grants available that can get you a lot of money for your existing business or to get one off of the ground. However, all of these have a lengthy-ish application process and you have to prove what you're looking to do is legitimate. This isn't some scheme where the government will throw $40,000 like the blog suggests for doing absolutely nothing, as you have to commit to doing whatever the government is trying to promote.

These grant scams are not really all that new as there have been reports about them going back to before this blog came into existence in 2012; a more recent article mentioned this scam in 2015.

The photos on the blog itself came from some stock image websites. You can see some of them here:

What a very happy family.

If you're curious about the cheque image itself, it was deleted from Wikipedia in 2011 so it doesn't appear to be anywhere on the Internet now. I do now have a cheque for $0.07 from TD due to an overpayment on a loan but I have opted to not deposit to see how long things go before they hound me if at all.

I have yet to see my $17,438.27 cheque from the Canadian government.

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