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MAINE BUREAU OF CONSUMER CREDIT PROTECTION
35 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333
State Regulators Warn Against “Westbrook Lending” Scam
February 19, 2009
CONTACT: David Leach, Principal Examiner Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection (207) 624-8527
GARDINER, MAINE – Loan regulators at the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection have received multiple telephone calls from out-of-state consumers reporting fraudulent advance fee loans offers from a company named “Westbrook Lending” that claims to be located in Maine. This company, which is not located in Maine, has posted an attractive Internet site which markets loans to consumers in exchange for advance fee payments ranging from $798 to $1,600. The Bureau was successful in convincing one caller to terminate a Moneygram wire transfer, while another caller insisted on sending a $1,600 wire in hopes of receiving promised loan funds.
“It’s never a good idea to provide personal information such as Social Security numbers and credit card or bank account numbers to unknown Internet lenders” stated David Leach of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit protection. “Advance fee loan scam artists, many of whom are located in Canada, falsely promise low interest loans in exchange for hundred of dollars in fees to cover phony administrative costs.” The potential victims are instructed to visit local supermarkets or department stores and to wire funds via Moneygram or Western Union to a Canadian address. “These situations never end well for the unwary victim who wires funds,” said Leach. “The criminals walk away with the consumer’s cash, and the anticipated loan funds never arrive.”
Unlicensed advance fee consumer loans are illegal, both in the United States and Canada. The best advice for consumers is to borrow only from known, licensed or chartered lenders. The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection maintains a roster of licensed supervised lenders on its website, www.Credit.Maine.gov, and can offer advice to consumers with questions about the legitimacy of a credit offer. Maine consumers are encouraged to utilize the Bureau’s in-state consumer-only hotline, 1-800-332-8529; residents of other states may call (207) 624-8527.
The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection was established in 1975 to enforce a variety of credit-related consumer laws. The Office licenses lenders, creditors and collectors; conducts periodic examinations of creditors to determine compliance with state laws; and responds to consumer complaints and inquiries. The Office also conducts educational seminars and provides speakers to advise consumers and creditors of their legal rights and responsibilities.
Last Updated: April 14, 2010 9:24 AM
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