The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is issuing a warning to small businesses (SMBs) about a possible lending scam shedding light on the risks of online lending.
Reports by National Public Radio’s wuwf unit on Monday (May 6) said the local BBB of northwest Florida is warning businesses about a fraudulent online lending scammer called “Cashier Club.” According to Pensacola BBB Communications Director Tammy Ward, the BBB received an inquiry about “Cashier Club,” which operates a website with a fake address.
“It actually had a lot of information on it that we were really concerned about,” Ward said of the website. “One of them was the fact it had our BBB seal. Only accredited businesses can carry our seal, and they are definitely not accredited. But they also carried the State of Florida seal, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau seal.”
The faux company reportedly sent the consumer who notified the BBB of the website a loan application that was “poorly written.” The website has been taken down, reports added, with a BBB investigation finding that the site had actually copy and pasted information from a legitimate online small business lender based in San Francisco.
Reports said the scam involved a potential borrower agreeing to loan terms, then providing bank account information over the phone. Instead of loan funds being transferred into the borrower’s account, the scammer transferred money out of it.
According to Ward, the BBB recommends that SMBs and consumers shop around for financing with a local lender.
“People that have brick-and-mortar places — look and see if there’s an address and a working phone number,” Ward said. “Due diligence — your money, you work hard for it. You don’t want someone just to take it away from you, and you don’t want to give them any additional help by providing them personal information before you make sure that they are doing the right thing for the right reasons.”