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Fraud websites offering fast loans target vulnerable people ahead of Christmas, gardaí warn

The website will often suggest that it is regulated by the Central Bank Of Ireland, even though it is not, and provide a fake Irish address.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

WEBSITES OFFERING FAST, unsecured loans are targeting financially vulnerable people ahead of Christmas, gardaí have warned. 

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau is cautioning the public to an ongoing advance fee fraud that involves websites offering unsecured loans.

Multiple websites offering the loans are directed at financially vulnerable people with difficulty accessing loans from established financial institutions.

The website will often suggest that it is regulated by the Central Bank Of Ireland, even though it is not, and provide a fake Irish address.

It purports to offer loans that can be processed quickly, asking the loan applicant to fill out an online application.

The applicant will then receive a call or other communication within a very short time – often minutes – saying their application has been approved and they will be told the monthly repayment and the total amount of the loan, sometimes offering more than what was asked for.

The victim will be asked to send a small amount of money to the lender before the loan amount is issued, with reasons given suggesting it is to cover a set-up fee; Personal Protection Insurance on the loan amount; or the first instalment of the loan to prove they can meet the loan repayments.

When the loan applicant sends the requested amount, no loan is issued and the advance fee is lost.

In one reported incident, a person living in Dublin contacted a company for a loan and  was asked to forward a deposit of €680 to guarantee the loan.

When they transferred the money, they did not receive the loan and had no way to contact the company.

What to watch for

Gardaí say the warning signs on these websites include a lender asking for a payment in advance; the website offering a fast and easy way to obtain a loan online; and the loan being approved very quickly.

The applicant may be pressured into making the advance payment immediately, usually on the basis that the offer would be taken back if the fee is not paid.

Those offering the loan typically have a fake address, fake or otherwise incorrect post code for the address on the website and a false phone number.

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They do not seek evidence of the applicant’s ability to repay the loan or seek a guarantor or security.

There is a lack of in-person meetings and the lender is not be regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, although they may claim to be.

The loan applicant may be asked pay the fee in advance by crypto-currency.

Gardaí are advising members of the public to never pay money in advance to a lender before the loan amount is drawn down and to never apply for a loan from an entity that is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

People looking to take out a loan can check the official Central Bank of Ireland website to see if a company referred to in a website is regulated to provide financial services in Ireland.

Loan applicants should research and entity offering a loan, including checking whether its address, post code and phone number is legitimate, and use genuine financial service providers or services provided by MABS.

About the author:

Lauren Boland

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