BANGOR, Maine — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is reminding Mainers to be on guard against “government grants” being offered through instant messenger programs and social media programs such as Facebook.

Typically the scammer poses as a government official — they may even have an account with a name and photo that matches one for a real office or public official.

The scammer tells the potential victim that they have qualified for a free monetary grant from the government that does not have to be paid back. All the victim has to do is pay a small processing fee and the larger sum of money will be released. No matter how much money is sent to the scammers, no grants are ever released.

“Scammers are always coming up with new ways to convince you to part with your hard-earned money,” Mills said. “If anyone tells you that you can have something for nothing, they are lying to you.

“No governmental agency conducts business or financial transactions via Facebook or instant messenger, and they will never demand you wire money or make a payment by a prepaid money service or any card you can buy in a convenience store,” she said. “If you receive one of these offers, ignore it, delete it or block the sender. If you send them a dime, you may never see it again.”

Anyone who receives such a message should report it to the service provider, Facebook, for example, as they may be able to shut down the suspect account.

Consumers can contact the Maine attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division with questions or concerns about these kinds of scams or other problems they have had with a business.