MADISON, Wis. -- As much as President Obama wants your vote, he's not actually offering to pay your monthly bills.
But thousands of Americans were persuaded otherwise, falling victim to a scam that claims to be part of an Obama administration program to help pay utility bills in a scorching summer.
The scheme spread across the nation recently with help from victims who unwittingly shared it on social media sites before realizing they were conned out of information such as Social Security, credit card and checking account numbers.
"No one knows who is behind this," said Katherine Hutt, spokeswoman for the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, Va.
The scam was cleverly executed and comes when air conditioners are running around the clock to tame record-high temperatures.
Here's how it works: Victims typically receive an automated phone call informing them of the nonexistent utility program that will pay up to $1,000. There have been reports of the hoax spreading by text message, flyers and personal visits.
Victims are told that they have to provide their personal information. In exchange, they are given a bank routing number and checking account number to provide their utility company when making a payment.
The swindle works because the payments with the fake bank account number are initially accepted.
Only when the payments are processed hours or days later is the fake number caught and rejected.
But by then, victims have told friends about the offer, posted it online and turned over information that could allow con artists to dip into their bank accounts or steal their identity.
Taneisha Morris' sister was drawn into the hoax after a friend received a text promising federal assistance with her bills. The sister sent the information to Morris, an unemployed Detroit woman.