Scammers use bank accounts, gift cards in fake loan scheme

PHOENIX - A Valley woman has a warning for consumers in the market for online loans.

We agreed to change her name to Mary because she says the wrong people have enough of her personal information to start a new life in her real name.

She had been applying for loans online to consolidate and pay off some bills.  So she wasn't surprised when she got an email saying she was pre-approved.

It claimed to be from Prosper Loans. Mary says she looked up the company and found that it was legitimate.  According to its website, the real business matches you with investors willing to loan you money.  The entire transaction is completed online.

It was enough to convince Mary to proceed. First, they needed her bank account number. She says they say it was two, "make sure that I'm a real person, that he belongs to the bank." 

Mary says they had her do some additional verifications of her social security number, driver's license number, and other personal information. Finally, they had her buy $2500 in gift cards from Target.

Buying gift cards is a hallmark of this type of scam. 

After you give them the numbers on the back, they take the cash and run. 

It's exactly what happened to Mary. 

She soon realized that the person that contacted her was not actually affiliated with Proper Loans.  But they weren't done with her or her bank account.

She says the scammer used her bank account number and, "reversed seven different transactions."  Including two months of rent, four insurance payments, and a big phone bill.  Once back in the account, scammers took an additional $2500.

"They put me behind a lot. To the point where I was going to be kicked out of my place," she says. 

Mary's landlord was understanding and gave her some time to pay, but what she really needed was some money.

Down even more cash, Mary didn't know what to do, so she let me know.

ABC15/BBB Volunteer Jim stepped in to help. 

He contacted Chase bank to explain how Mary was victimized twice. Within a few days, Mary says the bank investigated allowing the reversals and soon returned $2500 that she thought was lost forever.

"I felt like I had an angel on my side," she says and hopes to prevent it from happening to someone else.

"Never answer an email about a loan," she warns.

Thank you to Chase Bank for responding and returning that money to Mary.

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