VULNERABLE people in the county and those who have difficulty getting loans are being targeted by scam artists in an Advance Fee Fraud, gardaí in Clare have warned.
The warning came after a man in Sixmilebridge fell victim to the scam when applying for a loan online.
Clare Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Triona Brooks outlined, “During the week a gentleman in Sixmilebridge applied for a loan online from a site purporting to be a legitimate loan site.
“He was asked to pay €150 as an insurance deposit which he did. A short time later he received a call from a person looking for a further deposit.
2He became suspicious and contacted his bank who informed him that this was a scam.
“A number of websites offering unsecured loans are targeting vulnerable persons and persons who have had difficulty obtaining loans, for example because of a poor credit rating, from established financial institutions in a fraud known as Advance Fee Fraud.”
She explained, “The victim applies for a loan through a website that offers loans which it is claimed will be processed quickly.
“The website may also claim that loans are available without the need for a good credit rating or the need to provide collateral for the loan and/or to provide any documentation apart from basic personal details.
“Some of these firms also claim to be regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, ‘Central Bank’, when this is not the case.
“The victim will receive a call or communication within a very short time, often minutes, informing them that their loan application has been approved and providing details of the amount of the loan and the monthly repayment.
“The victim will then be asked to send an amount of money to the lender in advance of the loan amount being issued, with different reasons given for this for example: as an upfront fee, or to pay for Personal Protection Insurance on the loan amount, or to discharge overseas taxes or to show that the victim has the ability to meet the loan repayments. No loan monies are ever issued to the victim and the advance fee is lost.”
Sergeant Brooks highlighted some of the warning signs to look out for.
“The website will claim to offer a fast and easy way to apply for a loan online. The loan will be approved very quickly and without checks on identity, the ability to pay or credit rating.
“No hard copy/paper documentation will be required by the lender. The lender will ask for a payment of some kind in advance of the loan being given to the applicant. The lender will not be authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland although it may claim on its website or during a telephone call that it is.”
She advised, “Never apply for a loan from an entity that is not authorised by the Central Bank. And always check the official Central Bank website to see if the firm is authorised by the Central Bank. The register of authorised firms can be accessed at http://registers.centralbank.ie/.”
By Jessica Quinn