CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw yesterday announced that his office had successfully shut down a website run by fraudsters who offered “advance fee” loans.
Consumers reported that a group calling itself Norwood Lending Agency held itself out as a financial institution which offered guaranteed loans regardless of credit history.
The group operated a sophisticated website and claimed to be based in Morgantown, using a telephone number with a 304 area code. McGraw’s investigation found that the company was actually operating in Canada, and was spoofing its telephone number to appear local using a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) technology.
Investigators at the Consumer Protection Division located the owner of Norwood’s domain registrar, which cooperated with McGraw’s office to shut the website down.
Advance fee scams occur when fraudsters ask their victims to pay cash up front to obtain loans of $1,000 or more. However, once the fee is paid, consumers never receive the loan or hear from the business again.
“Fraudulent acts like this harm the consumers of West Virginia and abroad,” McGraw said. “Criminals are eagerly waiting to steal your money and it is imperative to do research before becoming their next victim.”
“Requests for advance payment to cover processing, application fees, insurance, or the first month’s payment are clear signs of a loan scam,” a release from McGraw’s office stated. “Legitimate lenders never ask for advance payments before issuing a loan.”
If you have been the victim of this type of scam, file a complaint with McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or 304-558-8986. You can also download a complaint form from www.wvago.gov.