RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – You get a message from someone you know telling you they just got free money and you can get some, too.

They claim it’s part of a government grant program, but it turns out the only thing you’ll get out of this is a drained bank account and stolen personal information.

In this latest scam, criminals had been in touch with a CBS 17 viewer for several days, but as she thought about it, their proposition began to sound fishy.

She contacted Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia to find out if it was a scam.

She had yet to pay them any money and Sbraccia told her not to send them any cash because what she described was indeed an oft-used scam that demands a fee in return for a large cash award.

It’s sometimes known as a grant scam.

Even though Mary Siddiqui did not send any cash, the scammers did get away with a lot of her personal information.

It was a Facebook message supposedly from Siddiqui’s aunt that opened up the scam.

“My aunt who I haven’t spoken to since I was 5 or 6 years old messaged me and said I had good news,” Siddiqui said.

That message from a “friend” or “relative” is a hallmark of these kinds of scams according to those who track these things.

“They actually go to great lengths to reverse engineer who your friends are to build up the profile, so it looks legitimate,” said Craig Petronella, who is the CEO of Petronella Technology Group.

In this case, Siddiqui was told she was eligible for anywhere from $150,000 to $450,000 in federal DHHS grant money.

That sounded good, so Siddiqui contacted the so-called “government agent” who was in charge of dispersing the cash.

“She goes you’ll have to fill out this form and stupidly enough I did,” she said. “I put in my name, address, phone number, age, and birthdate.”

She balked at providing the “government agent” her Social Security number, but she had already given up a lot of personal information.

Not only did Siddiqui give up her identity, but experts say she also made it easier for criminals to pull this scam on others.

“The motive here is for the bad actors to trick your friends into helping,” said Petronella.

In Siddiqui’s case, the criminals wanted $500 in cash to complete the scam.

“When they asked for money, that’s when I knew,” Siddiqui said. “I felt so stupid.”

However, telling the scammers that she won’t send them any money hasn’t put an end to it for her.

“They’re messaging me right now as we are talking,” she said during her interview with Sbraccia. “They are sending messages. I told them, leave me alone I’m not interested.”

Now she’s worried others she knows on Facebook will be victimized by the same scammers if they hijack her account and identity.

Because the scammers are still active in her life, Sbraccia put Mary in touch with the attorney general’s office as well as the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The lesson here, these scammers are relentless and won’t stop once they think they have a potential victim who can be tapped for more and more cash.