Advanced Fee Loans Strike Close to Home

Advanced Fee Loans Strike Close to Home
Consumers in a Pinch Targeted by Scam

BBB Greater | MD is warning consumers about these two advanced fee loan scams, Hershfield Lending Group and Patriot Loans Financial. They claim to operate at Baltimore addresses. Victims from as far away as California have been hit by the scam.
Within days of applying for a loan over the Internet, applicants would receive a phone call. Victims were told they were approved for the loan. The loan amount ranged from $5,000-$7,000. Consumers reported they were to wire five months of upfront fees ranging from $630-$1,400 to Canada using a moneygram. They signed an agreement and were told the loan would appear in their bank accounts shortly after the upfront fees were wired. However, no monies were transferred to their accounts. Written complaints to BBB indicate victims tried to contact representatives, but were forced to leave voicemail.
"The phone number given to the applicants appeared to be a screening number to keep them at bay. Once money had been wired, victims were unable to reach a representative," said BBB Greater | MD President & CEO, Angie Barnett.
Hershfield Lending Group claimed to work at 136 E. Redwood St., Baltimore and Patriot Loans Financial advertised a nearby address, 42 W. Mulberry St. According to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxations and BBB investigations, these addresses do not exist. As a result of our investigation, Web sites for both fraudsters were shut down.
Two different consumers who contacted BBB had comparable fax cover sheets sent to them by Hershfield Lending Group and Patriot Loans Financial. Everything was similar including verbiage, format, font and letterhead. The similarities suggest a possible connection between the two scams.
BBB Tips on Advanced Fee Loans:
* If you are asked to pay BEFORE getting the loan, don't do it. It's fraud and it's against the law.
* If you have any questions about whether a transaction is legitimate, talk to your bank or credit union.
* The MD Attorney General's Office, www.oag.state.md.us suggests that before signing for a loan with anyone, regardless of the terms, check to see if the person or business is licensed with the state of Maryland.
* Maryland residents should call the Division of Financial Regulation at (410) 230-6097 or contact them via email at finreg@dllr.state.md.us.
* The Federal Trade Commission has Facts for Consumers on Advanced Fee Loan Scams, www.ftc.gov
* Complainants may wish to report their experiences to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police PhoneBusters, The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or by fax at 1-888-654-9426, or by e-mail at info@phonebusters.com.
* Consumers may also file a complaint or report experiences at www.ic3.gov, the Web site for the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) where the FBI has partnered with the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to take complaints and develop information.
* MoneyGram International, www.moneygram.com has consumer protection information that can help educate customers about wiring money.
Visit www.bbb.org to check the company's report for customer experience and any possible complaints.
Headquartered in Baltimore, BBB of Greater Maryland is a non-profit organization that was established in 1922. It serves 18 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. In the first six months of 2008, BBB provided 534,013 Reliability Reports on businesses in its service area. BBB of Greater Maryland is supported by Accredited Businesses that have passed a comprehensive review, met 13 standards of trust, and that agree to uphold those standards including commitments to advertise honestly, and to address marketplace disputes quickly, respectfully, and reasonably. For more information please contact BBB of Greater Maryland at 410-347-3990 or visit www.bbb.org.