McGraw warns against scammers

John O'Brien Aug. 21, 2008, 2:20pm


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw says a band of scam artists are taking advantage of consumers who allegedly obtained Internet payday loans.

The group, giving itself names like "U.S. National Bank," makes threats to consumers who never obtained a loan or already paid it off. A release from McGraw's office said he is taking the "extraordinary step" of warning the public.

"Ordinarily my office protects consumers from fraudulent activities by seeking injunctions in court. But legal action cannot be taken until the scam artists can be located," McGraw said.

"Even then, it is unlikely that the persons behind the fraudulent calls and extortionist threats would obey a court order. In this case, the consumer's best defense is to be armed with the knowledge of the scam so that all demands for money can be resisted, despite the false but scary threats of arrest."

The scam artists speak English with a foreign accent and also call themselves "Federal Investigation Bureau" and "United Legal Processing." They allegedly pose as law enforcement officers, investigators, lawyers and bankers and threaten consumers with a charge of bank fraud and other fictitious crimes.

The release says, "They simultaneously scare and confuse consumers by using meaningless legalese gobbledygook phrases such as, 'We are downloading warrants against you' or 'We are filing an affidavit against you.'"

If the consumer does not comply, McGraw says they are told, "Only God can help you now."

Payday loans are short-term loans or cash advances and are prohibited in the state. McGraw has a history of going after them.

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