Officers from Lancashire’s Economic Crime Unit are trying to raise awareness of an emerging fraud involving the offer of loans which require “up- front fees”
Victims who may have been searching the internet for loans, have been contacted by telephone from people purporting to be from a loan company advising the victim that their request for a loan was successful.
They are then told that before the loan funds can be transferred, the “loan company” requires an arrangement fee to be sent to them by money transfer system first. Once this has been done, further high pressure calls are made to victims requesting more money for various reasons. No loan funds are ever received.
There are also instances where, during the process, money has been paid into a victim’s account and they have then been asked to forward them on by a money transfer businesses such as Western Union.
Enquiries have revealed that similar scams are taking place around the country and the victims are normally people who find it difficult to obtain loans. Agreeing to provide a loan to people who find it difficult to get credit is the “hook” that the fraudsters use to draw their victims in.
DC Scott Griffin of Lancashire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit advises that this type of offence is a type of advance fee fraud. He said; “These scammers are targeting desperate and vulnerable people with offers of loans.
“I would advise anyone applying for a loan in these circumstances to stop and think – especially if a company asks you to provide money up front.
“Be especially cautious if asked to send money by Western Union or other money transfer providers or if you receive money into your account and you are asked to transfer it on to a third party. In these circumstances, victims are being used as money mules and forwarding on money that has been scammed from other victims.”
• Anyone who has been the victim of advance fee fraud can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk