3OYS: East Valley woman ripped off in Internet loan scam

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- If you're going through tough financial times, a loan might help patch things up.

There are a few ways to get a loan, including going to your bank or credit union, or borrowing against your credit card. But as 3 On Your Side cautions that the last place you want to look for a loan is on the Internet.

Linda Horine has quite the collection of Native American items. "These are all homemade," Horine says, as she pulls out a Native American doll from a glass shelf. "This is stuff that we have collected or has been given to me."

The Southwest theme is pretty much all over her home. And although Horine would never think of parting with her collection, it might be her only option when it comes to her recent money problems.

And, it was those problems that drove her to the Internet in hopes of getting a loan. "This company responded to me, telling me I had been approved for a $3,000 loan," she says.

The company emailed Horine, saying she was approved for a loan. But in order to get that money, the so-called loan officer told Horine she had to do something first.

Horine was tolf to go to a retail store, purchase a money card, and then load money onto it.  "He said go get $200 and load it on to the card," she remembers. "But, you will get that back when you get the loan," she says he assured her.  "'It will be included in the loan.'  So, I said okay, fine."

Horine did what she was told, including providing a combination of numbers found on the back of the card which would allow her loan officer access to the money.

However, when she did, the loan officer told her the transaction must have not gone through because there was no money on the card.  So, she says he told her this: "I can hold your loan if you go and get another card and load another $200 on."

As a result, she loaded another $200, for a total of $400.  "He told me that my loan would be in my account by 11:00 the next morning," she says.

However, the morning brought bad news. "He called me the next morning and said because my credit is not that good, you're going to have to pay another $365 on to the card," she says.

Horine said no way. She was broke, and began to think she was involved in a scam.  At that point she wanted out of the transaction but that came with a cost too. "He said, well, if you want to cancel it's going to cost you $108," she recalls.

At that point, Horine knew she was being worked over, and that the alleged loan officer was really just a con man stealing every cent she had.  Horine says it's a $400 lesson and she hopes no one else falls for it. "Just be very, very careful," she warns. "Very careful because they will get you and they'll just keep going and going and going until they drain you of everything."

Keep in mind, you should never have to pay a fee in advance to obtain a loan.  If you're asked to pay money before actually getting money, you're most likely getting scammed.