Beware fraudulent loan offers on Web

Scam Watch

December 16, 2007|By Dan Thanh Dang

Two Canadian businesses using Maryland addresses are targeting consumers looking for loans online, promising them thousands of dollars but draining their accounts with advance fees without delivering the loans, warns the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland.

In recent weeks, the BBB says it has received five complaints against Consolidated Financial Services, which used an address of 190 W. Ostend St. in South Baltimore. Similarly, City Wide Lending used an address of 703 Giddings Ave. in Annapolis. The BBB says the solicitations actually originated in Canada.

One consumer wired a total of $850 in three payments to an individual in Ontario. Pressured to send more money, the consumer tried unsuccessfully to get a refund. The BBB says that when consumers attempt to call either company back, they are mistreated or greeted by a voice mail recording that says, "Thank you, goodbye," or just "Goodbye."

Consumers should research lenders before acting, and be leery of easy loans. Signs that you may be dealing with advance-fee loan fraud include:

Pressure to act immediately. Schemers will try to get you to send money or give out personal information before you get any paperwork. Insist on receiving all necessary paperwork before deciding to apply for the loan.

No or limited information regarding the company's location. Be aware that this is a common ploy to avoid law enforcement detection. If the company claims to have a U.S. address, but wants the fees wired to an address outside the country, be cautious.

Questionable connections to established financial institutions. Ask which lenders the "loan broker" deals with and ask for the lender's physical address. Then use the lender's name and ZIP code to check the business out online as well as at www.bbb.org.

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