Devon and Cornwall Police are warning the public about scams involving fake loan companies.
Police have received a number of complaints from people who have sought financial loans online and have been deceived by fraudsters.
The Internet is being used by unscrupulous criminals to exploit vulnerable people who have poor credit ratings and are finding it difficult to borrow money through the major financial institutions.
Following the initial online enquiry the scammers contact the customer by telephone and claim to be from a genuine finance company. They agree a loan but request that an initial payment and administration fees are paid up front. After the money has been transferred to the scammers via a transfer agent, no loan is received and the company will deny all knowledge.
There are a few simple checks you can do to make sure a loan company is genuine.
• Verify the caller: take their name and phone number, then check the information is correct for the alleged company.
• Search online: look up the company name, caller’s name, email addresses and phone numbers online for any reports of similar scams.
• If you are asked to send fees through a money transfer agent it will be a fraud.
Although the scammers may appear to use a UK telephone number, they are likely to be based abroad. The most recent frauds of this type are using ‘020′ numbers but are based in New Delhi, India.
They frequently request that you use reputable money transfer agents such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Genuine financial institutions will never use these services as they are designed for personal use (to transfer money to friends and family), not as a commercial banking service.
DC David Wright, Force Internet Crime Investigation Team, said: “Many people are finding it hard to cope financially at the moment and these loans can appear very attractive as a way of dealing with their situation. However the company may not be genuine.
“Make sure you do your research first before signing up to anything. Remember if anyone asks for money upfront, don’t sign up. And if the rates look too good to be true, they probably are.
“If you think you have been a victim of this scam, call the police on 08452 777444.”
You can find further advice or report fraud scams online at www.ActionFraud.org.uk
Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News