LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Have you had difficulty obtaining a loan through normal sources? If yes, you may become the target of an advance fee loan scheme.
One scheme happens when a con artist offers you a “guaranteed" loan for a fee paid in advance.
What appeared to be endorsements from Montel Williams and "The View" lured in as many of the 30,000 victims of this particular scheme.
"On the website, he would display prominent images of talk show hosts, imagine household names, he would often say he had been on these shows,” said William Zelmblidge, a U.S. postal inspector. "Victims would say in witness interviews that they often relied on these endorsements as a reason they trusted this service."
The problem: The con man running these ads was never on those shows. His promise: For $99, his company -- Golden Harvest -- would send consumers with poor credit a list of lenders who "might" give them a loan. He also offered a 100 percent guarantee of satisfaction. What happened? Consumers got nothing for their money.
"He chose to offer this bogus service for $99 dollars, and part of this was calculated. It was enough for him to make $3 million over a short number of years, then again, victims may say, ‘I don't know if this is worth my time,’ ” Zelmblidge said.
These are just some of the thousands of complaints consumers sent by mail demanding their money back. In response, the con man in question would actually insult those who dared to complain.
"When people would take the time to write and complain about refunds, that's when he would take the time to insult their spelling, and SAY why they don't have good credit," Zelmblidge said.
Postal inspectors began investigating after numerous consumers began complaining to the Better Business Bureau.
Inspectors also say anytime you are asked for money up front without verification of service that is another red flag of a possible scam.