CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office has shut down a website offering allegedly fraudulent advance fee loans.
A group calling itself Norwood Lending Agency allegedly claimed it was a financial institution and offered guaranteed loans regardless of credit history. The group used a website and claimed to be run out of Morgantown, using a 304 area code for its telephone number. McGraw's office alleged the company was actually based in Canada and that it spoofed its telephone number using voice-over internet protocol technology to appear local.
Members of McGraw's office and the Consumer Protection Division located the owner of Norwood's domain registrar, which cooperated in completely shutting down the website.
Consumers are often the victim of advance fee scams in which the scam artists ask victims to pay cash up front to get loans of $1,000 or more. After the fee is paid, the consumers never receive a loan or hear from the business thereafter.
"Fraudulent acts like this harm the consumers of West Virginia and abroad," McGraw said in a press release. "Criminals are eagerly waiting to steal your money and it is imperative to do research before becoming their next victim."
Advance fee loan scams claim to require advance payment to cover application fees, processing costs, insurance or the first month's payment. Legitimate lenders never require advance payments prior to issuing a loan.