How going public helped take the sting out of getting burned by scammers

Sharon Murphy put pride and embarrassment aside to help warn others about grant scams, and got an unexpected surprise. KOMO photo

Sharon Murphy literally lost her life savings to a scam that promises government grants - for a fee. Like millions of consumers, she had no idea the government never offers grants out of the blue, and you never have to pay a fee for a grant.

When she contacted KOMO News in December, she'd lost all the money in her 401K and her savings account, and was on the hook to pay back her bank for thousands of dollars the scammers took as part of the scheme.

Despite her embarrassment, Murphy came forward to share her story in hopes it would help keep other people from getting scammed like she did. Little did she know she'd get an unexpected boost.

After people saw our report, Murphy says she got a Christmas card in the mail that contained a generous, (and legitimate) money order from "Santa Claus." Some people people gave her gift cards, someone sent a personal check and a relative volunteered to pay off the loan Murphy had to take out to reimburse the bank.

Murphy says she's still in the hole financially, but the unexpected kindness brightened her outlook on life. She sends her thanks to the mystery "Santa Claus" and all the others who she says helped restore her faith in people.

KOMO viewers who saw the story thanked Murphy for coming forward. After the report aired, other people contacted KOMO to say they'd received the same government grant pitch, and thanks to Sharon Murphy, they knew immediately that it was bogus.

Bottom line: The government never contacts you out of the blue about free grants. You never have to pay for a grant. You must always apply and qualify for a grant. And government grants are never offered for personal use for things like vacations and living expenses.

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