Garda warning issued over scam moneylending sites

Bogus operations defraud people by demanding ‘advance fees’ for easy loans

Gardaí have issued a warning over the growing prevalence of bogus moneylending websites, aimed at defrauding people by demanding ‘advance fees’. Photograph: iStock

Gardaí have issued a warning over the growing prevalence of bogus moneylending websites, aimed at defrauding people by demanding ‘advance fees’. Photograph: iStock

 

The growing prevalence of bogus moneylending websites, aimed at defrauding people by demanding “advance fees”, has led to gardaí issuing a warning over the practice.

The online sites will claim to offer access to quick money and after individuals apply they will be asked to pay an “advance fee” on the loan. Bu

However, once this is paid, the loan never materialises, with the fraudulent operation pocketing the money.

On Monday, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau issued a warning over the fraudulent operations.

The websites target those who may have difficulty taking out a loan with official financial bodies, such as banks or credit unions, due to poor credit ratings.

Gardaí warned the scam operations often follow a similar pattern, with the websites offering loans that can be processed quickly. The websites may claim individuals do not need to provide documentation, other than basic personal details, and that there is no need to put up collateral on the loan.

Shortly after filling in an online application form, often within minutes, the individual will receive a phone call confirming the loan application has been approved, and be given details of the total sum and monthly repayment rate.

Then the online operation will request an “advance fee” on the loan, claimed to be required for a variety of reasons. These may include the need to cover overseas taxes, to pay for personal protection insurance on the loan, to prove the individual has the ability to make repayments, or as an up-front administration fee.

When the advance fee is paid, contact with the bogus moneylender drops off, and the loan is never issued.

Det Supt Michael Cryan said the websites often look very slick and professional. He said a number of cases had been reported by the Central Bank. He said the practice was an “emerging problem”.

The amounts demanded in advance fees varied, but ranged from about €100 to lesser amounts.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is too good to be true,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland .

“There will then be a very high pressure sales pitch where the caller encourages the victim to complete the deal immediately so the loan money can be transferred, they might try and say ‘this offer will expire today’, or ‘you need to take it now’, things like that.”

In a warning issued over the scams, gardaí said there are several warning signs people should be aware of, to avoid falling victim .

These include:

The website will claim it can offer fast and easy access to loans online.

The provider will state the loan has been approved without making any checks on the individual’s ability to pay beforehand.

The online site will not request any documents or paperwork.

The scam lender will not be authorised by the Central Bank, although they may claim they are.

The group will demand an advance fee, prior to the loan being issued.

The main piece of advice from gardaí on how to avoid being scammed is to never apply for a loan from an entity that is not authorised by the Central Bank.

A Central Bank searchable register of all official financial institutions and entities can be found here.