An Edmonton woman shares her story in the hopes that she can prevent others from falling prey to advanced fee loan scams.
When Doris Sinnett needed a loan a month ago, she turned to the Internet. A search led her to an online lender who seemed able to help her – for a fee of $ 500.
“I thought I really did due diligence. I guess the hindsight is 20/20,” she said on Friday. “It sounded too good to be true.”
After returning the documents, she was told that she had been approved for the loan. It was until the next day, when she was told that she should send more money immediately.
“I sent the other 500 dollars just while I was talking to him. I honestly said, ‘You just ripped me off, didn’t you? “”, she recounted.
“He said, ‘No honey, I didn’t.'”
The Edmonton resident receives regular safety training and updates as part of her job in the insurance industry, so she didn’t expect to become a victim.
“I checked the reviews, I checked the website. I thought I pointed every i and crossed every t. I was trained on this,” Sinnett said.
After that, a few days of calls told him they were looking into what happened to his money before Sinnett said his calls, texts and emails started to go unanswered.
She still has never received her loan or upfront payments, but believes the people who gave her this are still active. She recently received a random loan offer and saw some of the same names she was dealing with apparently attached to a new business.
Loan scams are on the rise
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there has been an increase in loan scams throughout 2020 and into 2021.
“With the pandemic still spreading, we still see a lot of loan scams, a lot of reports and people losing even more money,” spokeswoman Jessie St-Cyr said.
The BBB scam tracker has received reports of over $ 85,000 in total losses due to loan fraud this year. Most of this money will not be seen again.
“They’re disappearing,” St-Cyr said. “They won’t return phone calls. They will block phone numbers. They won’t return emails and this beautiful website that looked legitimate when the person was shopping or searching is turned off.
“So there’s virtually no way to track it down or get your money back.”
St-Cyr adds that after loan fraud, people can also be vulnerable to identity theft because of the information shared during the process.
This was something that Sinnett also worried about – she decided to close the affected account to prevent any further withdrawals.
Other tips from the BBB include checking the date a website was created.
“If a lender claims they’ve been in business for 25 years but you see the website was set up in July, that’s a major red flag,” St-Cyr said.
Data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center shows that in 2020, Canadians lost $ 104 million due to reported frauds. An additional $ 120 million has already been lost this year.