CHARLESTON - State Attorney General Darrell McGraw made two announcements earlier this month, one a settlement and the other he called a "small victory in the battle against cross-border advance fee loan scams."
That settlement shut down Canada-based Great Wide Investings, which, McGraw said, was using a West Virginia address and also running an identity theft scheme.
"Any person who has applied for a loan on any website that turns out to be fraudulent is a possible victim of identity theft," McGraw said. "Consumers should beware of any website asking for name, address, date of birth and social security number.
"You should be certain that you are dealing with a reputable company before supplying any personal information online."
Greatwide claimed to be based in Charleston, but McGraw was first contacted by the person who actually lived at the address. That person was receiving mail from someone in California who was using the site.
Also, McGraw said he was one of 26 attorneys general to join in a settlement with Directory Billing, doing business as USDirectory.com. The company is alleged to have mailed checks, usually for $3.50, that contained fine print above the endorsement line stating that by depositing the check, the recipient agreed to purchase on-line yellow page advertisement from the company.
Directory Billing agreed to stop the practice and pay $400,000 to the states for restitution for former customers and to reimburse investigative costs.