I hate these advanced-fee loan scammers. For the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in this particular type of loan fraud. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any law enforcement action to stop it and Chris Hansen from Dateline’s "To catch an ID thief" hasn’t returned my messages.
Advanced-fee loan scams are pretty simple. Basically, a fraudster posing as a lender contacts a person and offers them a loan. We think they are using spyware in some occasions to target people who have recently applied for loans and some have official looking loan applications set up online as well. The catch is that they require the "borrower" to wire hundreds or thousands of dollars to Canada under the guise of a downpayment or insurance expense. When the customer sends their money, they never hear from the fake lender again.
A lot of victims have contacted our team looking for help in reporting or undoing the crime. And they’ve sent us copies of the seemingly-official letters, loan applications and contracts. In the past, the thieves say they are from a made-up company like FairView Financial, Longway Financial, Royal Oak Financial or Kaitland Insurance Group.
But recently the scammers have been saying that they are from established, authentic banks. Here’s one case we received by email this week:
I received a call from a Donald White. He said he is from Lending Tree and that I would have to pay the first month and last month payment in order to receive a loan. Is this true? They are asking for $250 sent by Western Union.
This is definitely not true. Lenders will never ask you to send this sort of money before getting a loan and they certainly will never ask you to wire those funds via Western Union. You can read more about advanced-fee loan scams online.
If you are contacted by a lender asking you to send money in exchange for a loan, DON’T DO IT! Instead, immediately report your case to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Affairs and Phone Busters in Canada (usually where the funds are sent). You may also want to share your story with your political representatives, state attorney general, local news media, friends and family.