Beds Police are warning residents not to be taken in by scams that promise easy money.
Officers are dealing with at least two cases where people have applied to a company for a loan, only to be asked to provide money upfront in order to secure it.
After the initial money has been found by hard-up residents, the promised loan never materialises and the applicants are left even worse off than before.
Police are warning people that they should never pay up front for a loan and only deal with reputable companies.
It is not dissimilar to the better-known scam of doing a foreign national a favour by receiving money into your bank account on his behalf, or where unsuspecting residents receive notification they have won a lottery. In both cases, in order to secure your share of this free money, you must pay cash up front before you receive the big money, which never arrives.
In the latest swindle, innocent members of the public are being asked to pay up front in Ukash vouchers.
Ukash is a genuine and reputable company which allows cash to be exchanged for a voucher number at a local shop. The voucher can then be used to pay for goods and services over the internet or phone, rather than using a credit card or Paypal.
In the current scams, the fraudster sets up a company offering unsecured loans, similar to the popular short-term pay-day loan companies. Aimed at people who would struggle to get credit elsewhere because of poor credit rating, it lures often-desperate people in by offering instant loans.
One couple who applied for a £3,000 loan contacted Bedfordshire Police last month, saying they had been told their application to a company called Easy Loan had been successful, and all they needed to do was pay £90 over the phone to the company using Ukash vouchers. The loan money would then appear in their bank account within 10 minutes.
They provided the voucher number to a person who claimed to be in London – but the loan never arrived in their bank account. The fraudster even asked for another £195 to provide “proof to the government” – which luckily was not paid.
PC Angelina Aylward said: “It’s the second case in a short space of time I’ve dealt with and I’m sure these are not the only two.
“The police are in a difficult position as the victim only contacts the police once an incident has occurred. I felt extremely sorry for the couple that came to the police station and feel that it’s important that we raise awareness.”
Any other victims in the area who have not reported this to the police should contact www.actionfraud.org.uk the government agency responsible for investigating and recording lower-scale fraud and scams.
Action Fraud can also be contacted via telephone on 0300 1232040. Ukash can also be contacted for advice on 0808 2346244 or via www.Ukash.com
Both organisations advise never to pay up front for a loan and never use Ukash vouchers to pay for something in this way.
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