Three Charged with Operating Fake Florida Payday Loan Calling Scam

Inside Subprime: Nov 12, 2018

By Nikolas Wright

Three Florida men are facing a federal indictment for allegedly posing as payday loan officers in a scam calling business intended to extort money from Americans.

The indictment, filed on Oct. 24, accuses three men of running a call center in India used to defraud its victims. They’re also accused of posing as Internal Revenue Service agents.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, India-based call centers would mislead U.S. residents to believe that the callers were payday loan officers. The callers would tell people they were eligible for fake payday loans.

The scammers would also call about back taxes. The three have been charged with extortion and wire fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s office also charged two with aggravated identity theft and illegal monetary transaction.

The men ran the scheme in Florida between 2014 and 2016. The fraudulent callers would call from India using phone numbers that appeared to be from the U.S.

Payday loan scams aren’t uncommon, especially telemarketing fraud. Learn how to protect yourself from phone scams and other common forms of fraud.

The men collected the fraud cash by:

  • Withdrawing cash from prepaid cards bought and funded by victims
  • Hiring other conspirators (runners) to retrieve money wired by the victims to those runners
  • Hiring runners to open bank accounts into which victims deposited funds

Payday loans can be bad enough, even without the scammer component. With average interest rates of 400%, payday loans can take consumers’ checking accounts hostage. This puts consumers at risk of falling into the debt trap. Scammers’ attempts to defraud people add another concern to a financially strapped population who might be vulnerable to predatory lending in Florida and elsewhere.

How can you tell if someone calling is a scammer? Look for these warning signs. If you ever get a phone call from someone offering free money, raise your guard. Watch out for anyone asking for upfront fees, and be especially wary of anyone who doesn’t check your credit.

Payday loans were in Florida’s headlines earlier this year. In March, Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott loosened regulations on payday lenders, making it easier for payday lenders to operate. The bill, known in the Florida Senate as SB 920, doubled the amount payday lenders can give out from $500 to $1000, and extended lending terms from 7-30 days, to 30-90 days.

To learn more about payday lending in Florida, check out these related articles:

For more information on scams, payday loans and title loans, check out all of our state-by-state Financial Resource Guides including Florida and JacksonvilleMiami and  Tampa