Saturday 21 February 2015

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

A loan scam warning

In August 2013 we heard about someone in South Africa called Mandy Louw who claimed to represent a company called Express Finance and was offering to lend very large sums at a mere 2.5% interest per year. Was it real, we were asked?

No. There IS a lender in SA called Express Finance but this “Mandy Louw”, was nothing to do with them and in fact was stealing their company identity to run an advance fee scam.

In April 2014 a South African woman contacted us to confirm whether she had been a victim of this scam. The fake Mandy Louw had offered her a loan of R500,000 and all she had to do was fill in some forms and then send “Mandy” some money. Yes, in order to borrow money she had to give the lender money. Don’t you think that alarm bells would have been ringing by now? Don’t you think the words “advance fee” would have occurred to the victim by then?

Here’s the worst bit. The victim worked for the lending division of a bank. If anyone knows how genuine loans work it should have been her.

I told the victim very clearly that she was being scammed. My exact words were “This is a scam. There’s absolutely no doubt about it.” I urged her to contact her employer and let them know what had happened but then she went quiet.

Then it got worse. The victim got back in touch with us a few days ago. It seems that since we last emailed each other she had continued to give “Mandy” even more money in the forlorn hope that the “loan” might eventually appear. So far the victim has given the scammers a massive R184,000 and it’s only now that she’s understood that she will never see that money again. Worse still is that she borrowed money in order to raise the money the scammers were demanding. As well as being embarrassed and ashamed of herself she’s now impoverished because of her naïveté.

Luckily she’s now spoken to her employer, which we felt we needed to do for various reasons. Firstly she needs their emotional support but just as importantly they need to know they employ someone who is catastrophically gullible. Put these two things together and you have an enormous threat to bank security. She has also now spoken to the South African Police who will investigate the crime.

The lesson is a sad one. There are people out there who are so hopelessly gullible that scum like “Mandy Louw” find it easy to steal their money.

Please don’t be that naïve!

I damaged my sister’s car

Few weeks ago I bumped my sisters car when I was reversing and the bumper is completely ruined. She wants me to go to the police to make a statement so that she gets the insurance to fix her car. My question is what happens after the insurance fixes the car? Will they come after me?

Isn’t it better if I just fix the car myself because I don’t have any insurance? Please help.

If your sister claims for this on her insurance the insurance company will almost certainly come after you to recover their costs. That’s how insurance works: innocent parties don’t have to suffer, the guilty parties pay. In this case your sister and her insurance company are the innocent parties and you’re the guilty one. I think your suggestion is probably best. Get the car fixed yourself. It’ll be probably be cheaper and there’s less danger to your relationship with your sister. Also, do you really want to run the risk of being fined by the Police?

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