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BBB Consumer Alert: Advance Fee Loan Scam Falsely Uses Memphis Address

7/12/2011

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BBB Consumer Alert:

Advance Fee Loan Scam Falsely Uses Memphis Address

Fast Facts:

  • Company doesn’t exist at Memphis address it is using
  • Promises a loan in exchange for an up-front fee wired to Jamaica

July 12, 2011 - Memphis, TN- The BBB of the Mid-South is warning consumers about an advance fee loan scam operating with a Memphis address. Dewitt Lending Center offers a personal loan with one stipulation – the customer must pay an up-front fee in order to receive the loan.

Dewitt Lending Center has a snazzy website with cool graphics, music and flash elements, and claims they are “Bad Credit Loan Experts.” The website refers to the company in various places as Dewitt Lending Center, Rising Sun Lending Firm, and Rising Dewitt Lending Center, which may indicate that this scam has operated under more than one name.

The website also has no contact information for the business. The BBB has obtained copies of documents faxed to consumers that claim the company is located at 8700 W Trail Lake Drive, Suite 222, Memphis TN. The BBB has verified that no business with that name exists at that address. The actual occupant, The Sharpe Group, has received calls from people asking for Dewitt Lending Center.

According to Tournament Trails Joint Venture, they own the property and the legitimate tenant at that address, The Sharpe Group, is in no way connected to this scam.

Consumers across the country have contacted the BBB to inquire about the company; however, they found the offer fishy enough to seek BBB advice before sending any money.

One woman who contacted the company for a $9000 loan was asked to send $490 “collateral” to Kingston, Jamaica. In the BBB’s experience, wiring money to Jamaica is almost always a scam.

“Why would a company located in Memphis want you to wire money to Jamaica?” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB President. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Advanced fee loan scams require that consumers pay money upfront to secure a loan. Companies often disguise this up-front charge with deceptive rhetoric.

“It doesn’t matter what they call it, asking for money upfront is illegal,” Hutchinson said. “Once a consumer wires the funds to the company, the loan money never arrives, and the victim is out any funds they wired.”

A consumer from Murrieta, CA told the BBB Dewitt Lending Center called her several times asking her to wire money to Kingston, Jamaica. “The company is trying to act as if they are giving you a loan once you send them money by Western Union,” she told the BBB.

Another woman from Savannah, GA told the BBB that a Dewitt Lending Center representative told her she was approved for a three-thousand dollar loan but would be required to first pay a sum of $408.00. She was told that the money would cover her first three months payment and it was not a fee. “Is this legal?” she asked. “I don't want to get myself in a scam type situation.”

To date, no complaints have been received from local consumers victimized by the scam.

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:

  • Ask yourself why, if a local financial institution won’t make you a loan, someone in a foreign country would.
  • Check the reputation of any lender with the BBB and your state agency that regulates financial institutions 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. You have little recourse if there is a problem with the transaction.
  • 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:

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