We recently received a call from an individual in western Canada who had been defrauded by an online lending company. We asked this client for permission to share his story so that we could inform people of this scam. The client was in need of a short term loan and looked for lenders in his area. He went on Google and clicked on an Ad at the top of Google, and a company came up he went on the website, and everything looked fine. He called and spoke with someone who said they were in a call center in India and the client did not question that as many call centers have locations throughout the world. The individual stated that they could loan the customer $3,500.00, but he would have to pay $400.00 upfront. He did not see this as an issue and proceeded forward.
While we spoke to this client, we heard the red flags going off as he explained the situation. So we have outlined those here for you today to know what to avoid, so you are not a victim of fraud.
Red Flag #1
The company had very little web presence other than the Google Ad they were seen by. They did not have any local Google pages, 411, yellow pages, yelp, etc.
Reg Flag #2
The client spoke with this company several times over the phone, and the call center had the same person from India answering every time. In most cases, if you are speaking to a large company you will have a case number issued, and you would likely not receive the same person every time you call night or day.
Reg Flag #3
When the client asked how he should make payment, they said that he needed to go to any retail store and purchase Xbox gift certificates then share the gift card number with the company for payment. I have yet to see a legitimate company require payment via gift card so if this is an option in any situation you do we recommend not paying this way as you have no recourse to take the money back.
Reg Flag #4
The client paid the $400.00 with the Xbox gift cards, and the company said it would take a few days for him to recieve the moeny he was needing. The same person he had spoken with all along said that western union had some difficulty and that they requried an additional $400.00 in Xbox gift cards in order to send the $3,500.00 via western union. The client agreed and did so.
Reg Flag #5
The client waiting again a few days did not receive any information regarding western union and called the company and spoke to the same person who verbally gave the western union confirmation number over the phone. The client went to a store to retrieve the money with the western union confirmation number, and they told him that number was not valid. He called the company back and got the run around.
In the end, the client did not get his money back, and even though the first time we talked to the client he gave us the company’s web address, and we visited it. We explained to the client that there was nothing we could do as we see this situation happen all to often and as soon as you confront the companies they disappear and set up a new web presence under a different name. We informed the client to call the RCMP and report the fraud before contacting the lending company however he did not take our advice, and he called the company saying he was talking to an investigator and is going to the call the RCMP next. The scammer then hung up the phone and within minutes of the client confronting the company the website and all relative online information was gone, and the phone numbers were no longer valid.
These scammers are very good at what they do, and unfortunately, they do not leave much of a web presence as their daily lives are just filled defrauding people. If this happens to you, we often cannot find the information in a skip search to have a process server serve court documents. We encourage you to do your homework on a company before making any types of business deals, decisions, etc.
If you are looking to work with a company in a similar situation to this or even if you are working with a company for a different reason, we would suggest doing your due diligence first and hiring a private investigator to complete a background check or skiptrace. THis can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. Even though this particular story was not a massive financial loss compared to some of the situations we have seen for this client it was very damaging.