Edmonton woman lost $1K to loan scam

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An Edmonton woman is warning people about advanced fee loan fraud in the hope it can stop others from falling prey to the scam. The Better Business Bureau scam tracker says more than $85,000 has been lost this year across Canada and there has been a rise in loan scams.

Doris Sinnett found herself in need of a loan a month ago and she turned to the internet. A search led her to an online lender who seemed like they would be able to help her — for a $500 fee.

On Friday Sinnett said “I thought I really did my due diligence. I guess hindsight is 20/20,” and “It sounded too good to be true.”

After sending the scammer the paperwork, she was told that she was approved for the loan. That is until the next day, when she was told she would have to send more money immediately.

While speaking to the scammer on the phone, Sinnett said “I sent the other $500 right while I was talking to him. I honestly said, ‘You just scammed me, didn’t you?'”

“He said, ‘No, dear, I didn’t.'” 

Sinnett stresses that she regularly receives training and security updates as part of her job in the insurance industry so she never expected she would become a victim. 

“I checked reviews, I checked the website. I thought I dotted every i and crossed every t. I’ve been trained in this,” Said Sinnett.

It was a few days of calls telling Sinnett that they were looking into what happened to her money. Then, her phone calls, texts, and emails began to go unanswered. 

She never received her loan or initial payments back. Sinnett believes the scammers who did this to her are still active. She recently received a random loan offer and saw some of the same names she was dealing with seemingly attached to a new company.

Loan scams on the rise

Research from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) display that there has been a rise in loan scams throughout 2020 and into 2021.

Jessie St-Cyr, Better Business Bureau (BBB) media relations and communications agent said “with the pandemic still stretching we are still noticing a lot of loan scams, a lot of reports and people losing even more money.”

The BBB’s report that there are more than $85,000 in total losses to loan frauds this year. Most of that money won’t be seen again. 

The scammers make themselves disappear. They won’t return phone calls, will block phone numbers, ignore emails and deactivate the website.

“So there’s pretty much no way of retracing it or getting your money back” St-Cyr said.

St-Cyr adds that after a loan fraud people can also be vulnerable to identity theft due to the information shared during the process. This was something that Sinnett was also concerned about — she decided to shut down the account involved to prevent any further withdrawals. 

BBB suggested to check the creation date of a website to avoid being being a victim of this scam.

“If a lender is claiming that it has been in business for 25 years but you see that the website was created in July, that’s a major red flag,” said St-Cyr.

Data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre shows in 2020 Canadian’s lost $104 million to reported fraud. Another $120 million has already been lost this year. This article was originally sourced by CBC.