Advance Fee Loan Scam
May 15, 2012
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received reports that a website, sterlinglendinggroup.net, was holding out as being able to provide loans to consumers. The website indicated that the lender was located at 7803 SE 27th St, #D200, Mercer Island, Washington. This address is similar to that of a Washington banking institution, Sterling Savings Bank. Sterling Savings Bank is not affiliated with this website.
Consumer reports indicate that, once a consumer applies for a loan, they are contacted by an individual to approve them for a loan. This individual then requires that the applicant pay an up-front fee (often called "insurance," "payment protection," or "pre-payment") prior to receiving the loan funds. This up-front fee is required to be sent via Western Union. There may be additional miscellaneous fees requested before the loan funds will be provided. However, the applicant never receives the loan funds from sterlinglendinggroup.net.
DFI’s investigation indicates that this advance fee scam may be operated outside of the United States. Consumer reports state that they were required to wire the funds to a Western Union location in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
DFI strongly recommends that residents verify the license of any lender with which they consider doing business with. Consumers are urged to verify licensing status prior to giving the lender nonpublic personal information, such as social security number and checking account access. You can verify a license with DFI at www.dfi.wa.gov or by calling 1.877.RING DFI (746-4334).
If you feel you have been a victim of a potential advance fee loan scam, please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 382-4357 (1-877-FTC HELP), or online at www.ftc.gov. Also, victims should report their experiences to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
If you have given non-public personal information to this entity (date of birth, social security number, etc.), you may wish to view the FTC’s website on identity theft, located at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.