Memphis TN, December 1, 2010 – In this holiday season, when many consumers are looking for extra cash for gifts and other purchases, advance fee loan companies are preying on unwary consumers, taking their money for the promise of a loan or credit, and leaving them with nothing. The BBB of the Mid-South is warning consumers about an advance fee loan scam that is falsely using the address of some legitimate Memphis businesses. The scam company, Pillar Stone Equity Group, claims to be located in East Memphis. Bill Oates, owner of the property, says that is not true.
The company’s website contains no address or phone number, but the BBB has obtained copies of documents faxed to consumers that claim the company is located at 704 W Brookhaven Circle. Oates says there is no business by that name at that address.
“That is my property and I have two tenants at that address who are legitimate businesses,” Oates told the BBB. “Please help me dispel any concerns that those businesses are in any way connected to this scam, because they are not.”
Oates has received calls from several out-of-state consumers and one bank who became suspicious of the company. The BBB has received over 160 inquiries on the company in the last 30 days and rates the company F.
The BBB of the Mid-South was contacted by a Kentucky woman who wired $770 to the company as advance payment for a $5000 personal loan. She also gave the phony company her bank account information so they could deposit the funds. No funds have been received and now she can’t get in touch with the company. “They’ve blocked calls from my phone number,” she told the BBB. “I believe I’ve been had.”
“Advanced fee loan scams require that consumers pay money up-front to secure a loan, which is illegal,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB President. “Once they wire the funds to the company, the loan money never arrives, and the victim is out any funds they wired.”
Two signals that can indicate the illegitimacy of a given company are promises of loan approval prior to receiving the customer’s application and charging advance fees for the loan. Additionally, advance fee loan scams frequently use delivery methods other than the US Postal Service in order to avoid being detected and prosecuted by postal authorities.
The BBB reminds loan seekers to keep the following tips in mind:
- Check the reputation of any company with the BBB prior to entering into a transaction with them.
- Legitimate lenders will never guarantee or promise a loan before you apply for one, especially if you have a poor credit history or no credit record at all.
- Be wary of giving financial information to a company you are unfamiliar with, via phone, email or other means.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
Keep in mind that it is against the law for a company to ask you to pay – or accept payment – for the company’s services until you receive your loan.
If you believe you have been the victim of an advance fee loan scam, you are advised to contact: