The moment you see those big flashing lights advertising cash advance payday loans, you know that there is something quite shady about the whole deal. The first half of 2011 has been quite eventful for law enforcement officials trying to clean up the payday loan industry. There have been at least two major scams.
In March, two people who were behind a fraudulent business, were fined nearly $1 million for their crimes. Their business claimed to try to match people who wanted cash advance payday loans with payday businesses that needed customers. The fraud they indulged in had to do with how they deceived loan applicants into getting prepaid debit cards against their will. What they would do was, they would open a website and advertise their services - if you wanted a payday loan, they said they would find you a lender. As you filled out an application online, you would find that there were three or four new offers for prepaid debit cards that were included in the form. All but one of them would have the "I'm not interested" box checked. One though, would have the "Sign me up!" box checked by default. If a person didn't notice this and he just went on with filling out this payday loan form, in the end, it would be like he applied for a payday loan and a prepaid debit card together. And the agreement included handing rights over to the company to debit his bank account to pay for it.
Sometimes, they would offer the card as this free bonus; information about the exorbitant charges associated with the "bonus" would be buried deep in fine print. Each consumer lost about $55. But all of this was kind of decent compared to the latest scam to do with cash advance payday loans that has turned up. The IC3, a joint venture between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, has been investigating a very disturbing trend.
In this scam, people minding their own business at home get a call from a con artist claiming to be an official of the IC3or the FBI. The callers are very obviously not the US government employees - they barely speak English. But whatever they lack in language skills, they make up for with extremely threatening language. They tell the people they call that they owe money for payday loans they've taken out and that if they don't pay it back immediately, there'll be someone coming along any minute to arrest them. Sometimes, they claim to be from the Attorney General's office and say that the FBI or the IC3 is suing them for not paying back the loan.
Of course, all of this is beyond ridiculous. Why would the FBI or any government agency sue you for not paying back a loan to the some company? But they did get a few people to believe them - because they had done their homework. They had somehow found the victim's Social Security number and used that to look like they knew what they were talking about.
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By Melain Earcher