Gardaí issue warning over sophisticated loan scam
An Garda Siochana at the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau have issued a warning to the public over websites offering unsecured loans.
A number of websites offering unsecured loans are targeting vulnerable persons and persons who have had difficulty obtaining loans from established financial institutions in a fraud known as advance fee fraud.
The scam works when the victim applies for a loan through a website that offers loans, insisting it will be processed quickly. The website may also claim that loans are available without the need for a good credit rating or the need to provide collateral for the loan and/or to provide any documentation apart from basic personal details.
"Some of these firms also claim to be regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (‘Central Bank’) when this is not the case," gardaí warn.
The victim will then receive a call or communication within a very short time (often minutes) informing them that their loan application has been approved and providing details of the amount of the loan and the monthly repayment
They will then be asked to send an amount of money to the lender in advance of the loan amount being issued, with different reasons given for this advance fee.
Some of the reasons given for this request are the need for an up-front fee; to pay for Personal Protection Insurance on the loan amount; to discharge overseas taxes; to show that the victim has the ability to meet the loan repayments
Gardaí are warning, "No loan monies are ever issued to the victim and the advance fee is lost."
The following are some warning signs:
• The website will claim to offer a fast and easy way to apply for a loan online
• The loan will be approved very quickly and without checks on identity, the ability to pay or credit rating
• No hard copy/paper documentation will be required by the lender
• The lender will ask for a payment of some kind in ADVANCE of the loan being given to the applicant
• The lender will NOT be authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland although it may claim (on its website or during a telephone call) that it is.
• NEVER apply for a loan from an entity that is not authorised by the Central Bank
• ALWAYS check the official Central Bank website to see if the firm is authorised by the Central Bank. The register of authorised firms can be accessed at www.registers.centralbank.ie/
• There may also be instances where a firm "clones” the details of an authorised entity by taking the details of an authorised entity and claiming to either be that entity or an associated entity. Further information in respect of unauthorised firms that have already come to the attention of the Central Bank is available on the Central Bank’s website, but please be warned that there may be scams out there that have not yet come to the attention of the Central Bank.