CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office has shut down a fake Web site that seemed like it was operated by a Charleston credit union.
The site actually was being operated out of Canada, McGraw's office says.
"Last week, statecreditunion.net, was operational and had the potential to cause additional harm to consumers in West Virginia and around the country," McGraw said. "Today, if you attempt to visit this fraudulent website, you will find a message that states the page cannot be found. My office took the steps necessary to protect innocent consumers from being victimized by this scam. We want the thieves to hear our message loud and clear -– West Virginia will not be used as a haven for criminal activity."
The site touted advanced fee loans online. Applicants received an e-mail that identified the company as a state credit union located at 2200 Washington St. E. in Charleston -- the same address as the State Credit Union of West Virginia.
"If a consumer applied for a loan, he would receive an e-mail that identified the company as a state credit union located at 2200 Washington Street East, Charleston, West Virginia 25311 – the same address as the West Virginia State Credit Union," McGraw said in a press release. "In the e-mail, the consumers were told they would have to purchase insurance in order to qualify for the loan.
Specifically, the e-mail told consumers to wire $1,250.00 by Western Union or MoneyGram to a location in Canada. Once the money was wired, the consumer never heard from the crooks again.
"No legitimate bank or credit union will require a consumer to wire money in order to receive a loan or line of credit," McGraw said. "According to Canadian authorities, a majority of these advance fee loan scams originating out of Canada have been linked to organized crime.
"When consumers submit loan applications, they are giving criminals their Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal identifiable information that will be used to steal their identity."
Officials with the State Credit Union of West Virginia contacted McGraw's office notifying them of the complaints it was receiving, McGraw's office contacted Canadian authorities. McGraw's office worked with Go Daddy to shut the site down.