An Edmonton woman is sharing her story in the hope it can stop others from falling prey to advanced fee loan scams.
When Doris Sinnett found herself in need of a loan a month ago, she turned to the internet. A search led her to an online lender who seemed like they would be able to help her — for a $500 fee.
"I thought I really did my due diligence. I guess hindsight is 20/20," she said Friday. "It sounded too good to be true."
After sending back the paperwork, she was told that she was approved for the loan. That is until the next day, when she was told she would have to send more money immediately.
"I sent the other $500 right while I was talking to him. I honestly said, 'You just scammed me, didn't you?'" she recounted.
"He said, 'No, dear, I didn't.'"
The Edmonton resident regularly receives training and security updates as part of her job in the insurance industry so she never expected she would become a victim.
"I checked reviews, I checked the website. I thought I dotted every i and crossed every t. I've been trained in this," Sinnett said.
After that, it was a few days of calls telling her that they were looking into what happened to her money before Sinnett said her calls, texts and emails began to go unanswered.
She has still never received her loan or initial payments back but believes the people who did this to her are still active. She recently received a random loan offer and saw some of the same names she was dealing with seemingly attached to a new company.
Loan scams on the rise
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there has been a rise in loan scams throughout 2020 and into 2021.
"With the pandemic still stretching we are still noticing a lot of loan scams, a lot of reports and people losing even more money," spokesperson Jessie St-Cyr said.
The BBB's scam tracker has received reports of more than $85,000 in total losses to loan frauds this year. Most of that money won't be seen again.
"They disappear," St-Cyr said. "They won't return phone calls. They will block phone numbers. They won't return emails and that beautiful website that looked legitimate when the person was shopping or looking is deactivated.
"So there's pretty much no way of retracing it or getting your money back."
St-Cyr adds that after a loan fraud people can also be vulnerable to identity theft due to the information shared during the process.
That was something that Sinnett was also concerned about — she decided to shut down the account involved to prevent any further withdrawals.
Other tips from the BBB include checking the creation date of a website.
"If a lender is claiming that it has been in business for 25 years but you see that the website was created in July, that's a major red flag," said St-Cyr.
Data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre shows in 2020 Canadian's lost $104 million to reported fraud. Another $120 million has already been lost this year.