Scammers are using those looking for loans online and demanding high upfront insurance charges or fees.
Gosnells man Nathan, who did not want his surname published, lost $4000 after paying upfront taxes and insurance fees for an unsecured loan, which he was told had been approved. He received a letter saying the loan amount he wanted would be cleared after he paid the taxes.
“I don’t know what to do. It is a huge problem and I have no money now,” he said.
In June last year, WA ScamNet issued a warning after a genuine Perth-based broker, Mercury Money, had its identity stolen and two consumers lost a total of $10,000. Three other consumers almost lost money but contacted the real Mercury Money and discovered they were being scammed before it was too late.
So far this year, nine victims in WA have reported losing almost $20,000 to online loan scams. In 2014, WA ScamNet received reports from 16 victims who had lost more than $36,000.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said the scams targeted people in need of money and who can least afford to lose it to a scam.
“The heartless nature of this type of scam is particularly disturbing, as it targets susceptible consumers who may have had difficulties getting loans from traditional sources and then preys on their excitement when they believe their loan application has been successful,” Mr Newcombe said.
“Genuine credit providers are also being affected after having their business identity stolen, and fake websites and email addresses being set up by replicating their name, but with only slight differences, which are not immediately obvious.
“If in doubt, don’t send any money and contact Consumer Protection or ASIC, who can provide further advice.”