If it’s not one scam,
it’s another

A come-on is a come-on and some can wind up being way worse than the worst one ever used in any bar.

It could be the Nigerian letter scam in which you're invited to receive millions of dollars to help a government official spirit funds out of the African country, or it could be the newer Canadian mortgage scam.

A company identifying itself as RBC Financial Group of Toronto has placed advertising promising low mortgage rates, but once the company's $5,000 loan processing fee is collected from a customer, neither the loan nor the processing fee is ever seen.

The ads have not been placed in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, according to Advertising Director David Kennedy.

In fact the company has not advertised in any local papers, said Better Business Bureau of Hawaii President Anne Deschene. People are finding it in online newspaper advertisements, she said.

"It isn't in the local newspaper," Deschene said. "I guess it no longer has to be in print."

BBB-Hawaii has had a couple of local phone calls about the scam leading the local agency to check with counterparts in Canada.

It is believed that consumers who find the ad online are also sharing it online, she said.

"These advance-fee loans are as old as the hills," Deschene said. She believes current low mortgage rates are what's driving the scam's apparently growing allure.

The guiding principal is to only do business with a company a consumer has researched, she said. "The caveat is, if you haven't heard of them, what does that mean?"

Anybody researching RBC Financial at would not find any information on the company, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

"We don't have a report, and the Canadian bureaus don't have one either," Deschene said, as the organization is still working to collect enough information to generate a report.

"It's hard to track 'em down," she said. "They may call themselves anything by now."

Dead leads have included a bogus return address and a phone number in Oklahoma. The BBB has yet to find or receive a copy of the advertisement they've heard about in consumer complaints.

Those perpetrating the scam are shadowy people, she said. "Don't send them any money."

The BBB's tips for self-preservation when loan shopping are:

>> Legitimate lenders never guarantee credit or say a consumer is likely to receive a loan or credit card prior to the application process.

>> Legitimate lenders never ask a consumer to pay for processing an application, although lenders involved in real estate loans engage in the accepted and common practice of requesting payment for a credit report or appraisal.

>> If a firm offer is not in writing and a consumer is asked to pay, it's fraud and therefore illegal.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

E-mail to Business Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin