ST. LOUIS — A West Chicago, Ill., man who sought a $7,000 loan to pay for his mother’s medical and funeral expenses, paid $1,080 to a company using a St. Louis address and a Canadian telephone number and received nothing in return, he told the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The man applied to Alliance Lending, which uses an address of 1310 Papin St., St. Louis, and does business through a Web site, www.alliancelending.org. He was told to wire the money as security to Barbara Windham in DuPont, Ontario, Canada. “The money I sent was money that was for my 91-year-old father’s mortgage (payment) and his prescriptions,” the duped would-be borrower said.
The address for the company is an office building in downtown St. Louis, which does not list the company as a tenant. A spokesman for the owner of the building said that Alliance Lending is not a tenant of the building and has never been a tenant of the building.
Since Nov. 8, 2007, the BBB has received 13 complaints and reports against the company. Complainants report that they searched for loans online and were contacted by the company via telephone. Consumers who were contacted by the company were told they were approved for loans, but the company needed payments as security deposits because of poor credit scores.
An Elgin, Ill., borrower said he was promised a $5,000 loan if he wired $1,800 to Maine, Ontario, Canada to secure the loan. He wired the $1,800 but never received the loan proceeds. “I borrowed the money to pay some bills to improve my credit. I mailed out almost $3,000 in checks to people I owed money because they told me the $5,000 would be in my account that day. The first $900 was from my
Mom and Dad and it was the money for their mortgage payment. The second $900 was from my partner and it was for his mortgage payment. They can’t pay their mortgage payments now,” he said.
A Dayton, Texas, woman sent $1,440 to secure a $15,000 loan. She wired the money to Audrey Reid in Alberta, Ontario, Canada. She said, “I was trying to get the loan to pay off a bunch of small loans. I was trying to get ahead. I sent them my truck payment and house payment for the month, and now I’m behind,” and she never received the loan, she said.
A representative of the Missouri Division of Finance said that Alliance Lending is not licensed by its office. Alliance Lending at 1310 Papin St., St. Louis, is not registered with the Missouri secretary of state.
The BBB offers the following general tips regarding advance fee loans:
• Reputable lenders never guarantee or promise that you will receive a loan before you apply, or before they have checked your credit report.
• Don’t give your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number on the telephone, by fax, or via the Internet unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary. Don’t send money or money orders for a loan by wire. Reputable lenders don’t pressure you to wire funds.
• Make sure the company’s physical address and phone number are available on its Web site. Beware if the loan broker hesitates to tell you the physical location of the company. Refuse to do business until you have obtained and verified its physical address or location.
• Obtain the company’s number in the phone book or from directory assistance, and call to make sure you’re dealing with the company you think you are.
• If the broker claims to have connections to established financial institutions, ask which lender the company deals with, and ask for the physical address of the lender. If you think you’ve been victimized by an advance fee loan scam, you may file a complaint with the BBB at 314-645-3300 or by visiting www.stlouisbbb.org or with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or by visiting www.ftc.gov. If the company is located in Canada, you may report it to “Phonebusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center” at 1-888-495-8501 or by visiting www.phonebusters.com.