The IC3 has received thousands of complaints regarding pay day loan scams over the last three years and continues to see new variations of the scam.
The scam involves victims who are relentlessly contacted, via the telephone, at their residences and places of employment. The subjects claim the victims are delinquent on a payday loan and must repay the loan to avoid legal consequences. The subjects use coercion techniques such as harassment, threats, and claims that they were representatives of government agencies and law firms. Only some of the victims have reported previously applying for a payday loan, others said they have never made such an application.
The subjects seem to have accurate information on the victims, including social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends.
The subjects refuse to provide any details of the alleged payday loans and become abusive when questioned. Victims are threatened with legal actions, arrests and, in some cases, physical violence if they refuse to pay. Some have been told there was an outstanding warrant for their arrest. Many reported that subjects have also harassed their relatives, friends, and employers. In a couple of instances, the subjects came to the victims’ places of employment and residences claiming to be process servers.
Over the last couple of months, the scam has evolved from just receiving telephone calls to also receiving official-looking emails purportedly from the United States Attorney. The emails reference the FBI, court proceedings, and serious allegations. Allegations include violation of federal banking regulations such as collateral check fraud, theft by deception, and fraudulently conducting electronic fund transfers. Recipients were instructed to contact the subject within 48 hours of receiving the email.
To educate consumers and reduce the number of victims of this scam, the IC3 has posted two Public Service Announcements (PSA) warning consumers. The first PSA was posted in December 2010 and the most recent was posted in February 2012. Both PSAs are available at http://www.ic3.gov/media/2012/120221.aspx and http://www.ic3.gov/media/2010/101201.aspx.