Tip off to a rip off: Advance Fee Loans

Seven On Your Side
December 18, 2008 3:16:23 PM PST
It's called the "advance fee loan scam." The consumer gets a loan, but only if they fork over hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars in advance. One desperate woman fell victim to the scam. She doesn't want you to know her identity but she does want you to know her story. "They had it down to a science." The consumer is describing her dealings with Cedarbrook Lending Group.

Last month, she went online looking for a loan and found Cedarbrook Lending Group.

"My credit is not the greatest," she told 7 On Your Side's Tappy Phillips. "So they said due to bad credit you would have to secure the loan, give (us) 6 months (worth of interest in advance)."

That meant wiring Cedarbrook Lending Group an up front fee, more than $2100.

"It went to someone's name on a Money Gram, of course. but that person is not to be found," she says.

Soon after, she got suspicious. That's when she asked for a refund, which Cedarbrook's C-E-O promised to her in writing, but... "They're gone."

But when we called Cedarbrook's number nobody picks up. An automated recording only says "good-bye" and hangs up.

Next, we went online and found plenty of unhappy postings about Cedarbrook Lending Group. Some say they wired away hundreds, even thousands and got nothing in return.

"Wiring money to a company that you have never seen face to face, that you have never heard of (before 10 minutes ago) is a really bad idea. You might as well send them a shoe box full of 20's," says Len Gordon, Regional Director of the Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission says they've gotten as many as 13,000 complaints last year for this kind of fraud. "If they want an upfront fee before you fully submit the application, and that fee is said to guarantee you are going to get this loan, again, big red flag. Don't do business with these people," says Len Gordon.

Our consumer doesn't expect to ever see her money again and probably won't. The FTC says this kind of advance fee loan is illegal when done over the phone. And, in New York, all advance fee loans are illegal. Remember, the rule is, never pay money to get money.

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To file a complaint with the FTC: http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm

Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone


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