August 16, 2022

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‘Grant Bae was a rip-off’: The FTC is shutting down grant writing service they are saying ripped off dozens of minority-owned companies through the pandemic

Calling herself Grant Bae, she appeared in on-line chats alongside well-known company influencers. She mentioned she has years of grant writing expertise and may help struggling minority-owned companies safe much-needed money through the pandemic.

For this, Traeshonna Graham of Lake Metropolis, Fla., has raked in 1000’s in charges, however dozens of consumers say she by no means delivered. Now the Federal Commerce Fee and Florida authorities have moved to close down Grant Bae, saying the deal is all a COVID-19 rip-off.

“These scammers focused minority-owned firms and misappropriated public funds earmarked to assist sincere companies through the pandemic,” mentioned Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Client Safety Bureau.

Total, the FTC mentioned at the very least 100 firms had been scammed as a part of the rip-off.

Messages left for Graham, who courtroom paperwork say is representing herself, weren’t instantly returned.

Investigators say Graham based C. Lee Enterprises, LLC in 2020, publicly operated it as Grant Bae and marketed herself on-line as an skilled grantee centered on serving to small companies discover wanted funds within the chaotic early days of the pandemic .

Focusing on minority-owned companies, Graham has appeared as Shonna Williams on panels alongside well-known entrepreneurial consultants on platforms reminiscent of Clubhouse.

“I heard her communicate in a digital room the place the audio system centered on enterprise growth consulting,” wrote Raymond King, the proprietor of a North Carolina firm that makes hair and skincare merchandise, in a criticism describing it how he was cheated out of 1000’s by Grant Bae. “She carried out alongside Grant Cardone, which I felt gave her legitimacy as Grant Cardone is an enormous participant within the entrepreneurship world.”

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publications like Black firm and profiled about her service and described how she helped safe $65 million in funding for minority-owned companies.

However the FTC says it was all a lie. Graham had little expertise as a fellow when she based Grant Bae, and that her final identified job was for a Florida fast-food restaurant, from which she was fired in 2018 for theft. She was serving three years of probation for the offense, courtroom information say.

Messages left with representatives from Black Enterprise and weren’t instantly replied to. Cardone, an actual property funding promoter, mentioned in an announcement that he had no reference to Graham and “had no information of what occurred.”

As a part of its investigation, the FTC mentioned it appeared Graham used cash she allegedly acquired fraudulently by way of Covid-19 aid applications to construct her Grant Bae enterprise.

King mentioned he was promised he would obtain at the very least $50,000 in grants if he paid a $1,999 charge up entrance. If he didn’t get the cash, he was advised he would get the charge again. However after months of strolling round, he mentioned Grant Bae not responds to his messages.

“I started to imagine Grant Bae was a rip-off as time handed and nothing it promised got here to cross. I didn’t obtain the promised $50,000 in grants. In reality, I acquired no funding in any respect,” he wrote.

His was one in every of dozens of complaints filed alongside the FTC’s lawsuit in Florida federal courtroom, by which small enterprise homeowners claimed to have had comparable experiences with Grant Bae. Final week, a federal decide issued an injunction shutting down the corporate pending additional authorized motion.

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