Gardaí are warning of financial vulnerable people being targeted in loan fraud schemes that aims to scam fees from victims.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau has said that there is an ongoing problem with Advance Fee Fraud related to websites offering unsecured loans.
These websites are offering unsecured loans to people who have difficulty accessing loans from established financial institutions.
In these cases, what occurs is the victim identifies a website offering loans which will be processed quickly and without security.
The scammers will take steps such as providing a fake Irish address, and stating that they are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, in order to lure victims in.
The loan applicant will then complete an online application and will receive a call or communication within a very short time, often minutes, informing them that their application has been approved.
The scammers will advise of the amount of the loan and the monthly repayment, sometimes offering more than what was sought.
The victim will then be asked to send a small amount of money to the lender in advance of the loan amount being issued.
Different reasons will be given for this advance fee, such as a set-up fee, paying for Personal Protection Insurance, or the first repayment instalment to show that the victim has the ability to meet the payments.
The scammers will then vanish with the advance payment, without any loan ever being issued.
The warning signs of these websites include the lender asking for a payment of some kind in advance, the website offering a fast and easy way to obtain a loan online, and it being approved very quickly.
The victim may also be pressurized into making the advance payment immediately, often on the basis that the loan offer will be withdrawn if the fee is not paid.
These entities offering the loan will have a fake address, fake or otherwise incorrect post code for the address on the website and the advertised phone number will not be functioning.
The GNECB is advising members of the public to never pay money in advance before a loan is drawn down, or work with any entity not regulated by the Central Bank.
Check the official Central Bank of Ireland website at http://registers.centralbank.ie/ to see if the company is regulated to provide financial services in Ireland.