Local scam victim warns others about the danger of advanced fee loans

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As many businesses remain at a stand still, people are struggling to make ends meet.

Our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad are warning people not to pay any company you find online upfront for a loan.

Multiple advanced fee loan scams have been reported over the last month in Northeast Ohio.

Rebecca Robins was trying to find a way to finance a real estate investment.

She found Scala Funding Company LLC online and they sent her a loan contract.

“I even sent that to an attorney to review and he said everything looks fine,” she said.

Over the course of the next few days, she sent the supposed lender $2,600 in fees.

“He kept asking me for additional money and additional money,” she said. “When he asked for money the fourth time, I said no."

Her loan never came through.

“I felt stupid. I felt like I did all of my due diligence. I even went to an attorney,” Robbins said. “I thought I was good to go, and I still got scammed. I could not believe it.”

Sue McConnell at the BBB’s Cleveland office is especially worried about people falling victim to advanced fee scams amid the corona virus pandemic.

“If people are strapped for cash, which many of us are right now, it’s very tempting to go online and look for loans,” McConnell said. “You should never pay a fee like that to get a loan. If a company wants you to give them money in advance or access to your bank account. that is probably a scam.

McConnell says loan brokers have to be registered with the Ohio Department of Commerce.

19 News discovered that anyone do a quick check online to see if a company has the correct license.

“You can go on that website and enter the name of a business, and you can see if they are licensed to offer loans in Ohio,” McConnell said.

The company Robbins tried to borrow from didn't come up.

And, since loosing the money she did, more supposed lenders without licenses continue to reach out.

“It’s unbelievable how many scammers I’m getting across my email,” Robbins said.

She is reporting them to the BBB’s scam tracker, in hopes that it could help someone else desperate for money right now.

“I am so grateful that I can share this with people,” she said.

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