Two years ago, I was contacted by a man from a company claiming to be in the business of helping people to become grant writers. After several days of phone calls, convincing and going against my gut feeling, I made the mistake of getting involved with a man named Robert McDonald at a company called IWorks.
He quoted me a price of around $9000 but was miraculously able to drop the price to $5089. Being a student and a public educator, I, of course, could not afford this venture; however, being a good writer, I believed that this program could help me not only pay off my student loans but also to write small business loans for some friends and other people to make some extra money. I was promised by Mr. McDonald over and over again that there were millions of dollars in personal needs grants available.
I went through my ridiculous "coaching" sessions, in which I was far more adept at writing than was my "coach." I did everything I was told to do and later contacted the company for my "additional sessions" to further help me recoup at LEAST the money I had "invested" (read: lost).
Being in public education, I have attempted to find grant money for my school on many, many occasions. I have researched on my own and have searched THOUSANDS of websites for education related grant money. In the process, I have also searched for "personal needs grants," and I have been told that they do not exist. Grantor after foundation after funding source state that "We do not grant money to individuals."
I have used the software and researched ALL of the funding sources suggested by my "coach." I have also researched thousands more funding sources NOT suggested by my coach. What I have encountered is a series of dead ends.
I called yesterday to get website information from "customer service" so that I could file a complaint, and I was given the runaround including "someone will call you back immediately" and "why do you need a website?" I then called one of the 25 phone numbers that I had been given by Mr. McDonald (who, by the way, claimed to be a devout Christian), and finally reached a man who was unbelievably rude to me.
He stated that what I had paid for was an "educational program" and that, although I could have found all of the information I had learned from my "coach" online, I had chosen to pay for it. He insinuated that I am too stupid to find funding because my "coach" had written many grants for which he received money and I had not.
I have a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree with a double certification, and I will finish my Doctorate in the summer. I also completed a Medical Transcription program while working on my Doctorate. Those programs were ALL educational programs. I have been able to find work based on the training I received from EACH degree that I have earned, which, by the way, have been earned at considerable cost to me in terms of money, time, and social life.
This "educational program," which cost me over $5000, has earned me nothing in return. I would never have agreed to the terms of the contract except for Robert McDonald's repeated guarantees of personal needs grant money that was available from multiple sources. Now, in addition to being out $5089, I am absolutely humiliated that I fell for such a scam. I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, and no matter what, I have made a complete fool of myself and have lost a significant amount of self respect.
I don't expect anything to be done about my situation; however, I have considerable documentation that I feel will make a good case. I am interested in finding out if anyone else has successfully prosecuted, filed a civil suit or class action suit, or if anyone would be interested in doing so.
Absolutely humiliated in Tennessee