7 On your side: Advance fee loan scams - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On your side: Advance fee loan scams

7 On your side: Advance fee loan scams

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 It's bad enough to be severely in debt-- but then to fall victim to a loan scam adds insult to injury. A local woman who is speaking out to save others from her mistake.

Man with a strong foreign accent is the voice on the line she calls, as Diane Woods works to borrow some money. "Thank you for calling.  High calls, so we are not able to answer your call.  We will need a number and will be calling you shortly," goes the message, which is hard to discern.Woods knows that voice-- as the man who told her she was going to get a much needed loan:

"They called me, said I was approved for $5000," she said.

Woods says the man told her to put $79 dollars on a Green Dot cash card.

"I was hurt, I was mad, I was upset.  I said my husband might divorce me I said because that was our last, I tried to get the money anyway because I didn't have it that day, just to get the $79, it was hard getting it.  When you say you were going to give me $2246 loan, I was thinking of all that, a million things I could do with it.  Pay some bills or get my medication, something like that. When they did that to me I was hurt,  I was crying too.," said Woods. 

Sadly, often those who fall for scams like this are among those who can least afford to lose the money.  Woods lost $79 and they wanted more.

"He said to make your credit score higher, we're going to need about $180 more dollars on a green dot money card," said Woods.  

It was then that Woods knew she had made a mistake.

"I was hurt and I was crying too.Money's not easy to come by.  It's a big thing when people do that to you," said Woods.

Carmen Million, president of the SWLA Better Business Bureau, says such frauds are called advance fee loan scams and she's alerting the public not to be a victim.

"The Better Business Bureau has received a large number of calls and some complaints from consumers that have actually provided money to these companies and have not received a loan.  Have not received any information other than a request for additional funds," said Million.

Legitimate loan companies require a detailed application, usually in person.

"They're just telling you you're approved for a loan of up to $5000.  But oh, by the way, you have to go out and buy a green dot money card. The same scenario on other scams-- you call them back, you give them the number on the green dot money card and of course they're going to remove the money off the card," said Million.

 Again, she urges people not to give personal or financial information to an unknown firm over the internet or telephone.

We tried to call the loan scammer but he hung up so we called back and left a message:

"Hi, this is Theresa Schmidt.  I'm a news reporter in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  I'm trying to find out why you're calling consumers in our area and telling them things that are not true.  Please call us here at KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  We want to know why you're doing this to our consumers."

Woods knows now not to pay up front for a loan. She figures one day the scammers will get what they deserve.

"God don't sleep and whoever does this to people, God's looking at you every minute," she said. 

Woods hopes telling her story will keep others from making the same mistake.  

   If you've been a victim of an advance fee loan scam, you're urged to call the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission and the Commissioner of Financial Institutions.

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