Over 70 websites offering Gardaí Suspended Unsecured Loans

More than 70 websites offering unsecured loans were suspended last year after investigations by gardaí.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) warns people not to be fooled by websites offering unsecured loans.

Typically, people turn to these websites when they are having difficulty obtaining loans from established financial institutions. This can be a particular problem during times of financial stress, such as the post-Christmas period.

GNECB Detective Inspector Mel Smyth said gardaí suspended 74 of those websites.

The websites were suspended for three months, disrupting the activities of fraudsters targeting financially vulnerable people.

However, the outfits behind websites can quickly create new ones for them.

Detective Inspector Smyth said the websites look professional and can easily fool people. These websites claim to be regulated by the Central Bank, but are not, he said.

They usually contain unreachable phone numbers and often have incorrect addresses, making them impossible to contact.

He said, “But when someone applies for a loan, they get a phone call within minutes. The caller can ask you for some ID, such as your passport or driver’s license.”

When applying for a loan online, a person provides valuable personal data including name, address, date of birth and phone number, which can then be used by the scammer.

This information can then be passed on to a third party, who will attempt to defraud the unsuspecting loan seeker’s money by pretending to be their bank.

Meanwhile, loan application fraud continues, with the fraudster seeking additional fees and charges from the applicant and possibly repayment of the first month as a deposit.

He said such fraud exploits a person’s human nature to trust and that when someone is in desperate need of money, they will pay the required extra fees.

As a result, they pay the fees, but do not receive any money from the “lender”.

According to Detective Inspector Smyth, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau is liaising closely with the Central Bank on this particular fraud, with the aim of disrupting the activities of those behind the websites.

But Detective Inspector Smyth claims the people behind the websites are working outside of jurisdiction, which means the money sent through the websites by unsuspecting Irish people is gone and cannot be recovered.

However, the focus is on suspending websites to disrupt their business, although new sites are quickly established.

Gardaí advises members of the public to never pay money before a loan is withdrawn and to ensure that any entity is regulated by the Central Bank by checking the Central Bank’s website.