A Zanesville couple lost $500 while looking for a loan online.
The couple was looking for a loan online when they received a call from a man offering them a $3,000 personal loan. From there, they were passed around to several individuals before talking to Oscar, a “loan advisor.”
Oscar told the couple that they would need to pay $200 upfront “in case something happened like the inability to repay the loan.” From there, Oscar directed them to go to Walgreens and buy a Google Play card for $200. Oscar stayed on the phone and after the card was purchased, Oscar asked them to scratch the code off of the back and read it to him.
After receiving that code, Oscar informed the couple that they would need to pay taxes on the loan before having it deposited into their account. The couple bought a second Google Play card for $300 and read the code on the back to Oscar.
Oscar revealed that more taxes were due and the couple became skeptical. From there, Eric Johnson got on the call and claimed to work for the Ohio Department of Taxation. Eric tried to pressure the couple to pay another $200 to the loan and when they asked if they could pay the next $200 in the next few days, Eric said they were not able to process two separate transactions over two separate days, told them to talk to Oscar, and quickly hung up. Overall, the couple lost $500.
Better Business Bureau has the following tips to avoid falling for an online loan scam:
- Be wary of vague or unclear fees charged before you get the money. Most loans do come with fees (application fees, credit report fees and appraisals) but they will always be upfront about them. A scam lender will try to collect that money as a condition for you getting the money.
- Avoid guarantees and unusual payment methods. Real lenders never guarantee a loan in advance nor will fees ever be paid via Green Dot MoneyPaks, Google Play cards or wiring money.
Do your research. Scammers try to trick you by pretending to be from official or trustworthy organizations. Contact the agency directly to see if the program is real. Lenders and loan brokers must register where they do business. To check registration, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office or Ohio Department of Banking or Financial Regulation.
To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker. Check bbb.org for more information on how to avoid scams.