Although it has been quite a while since I have posted an article here, the recent appearance of fake loan sharks and advance fee scammers has necessitated a public notice for new visitors to the site.
Over the past few months, I have been closely monitoring the website traffic and comments, and it has become clear that there is a significant group of people who have been “camping” over this site and harvesting email addresses and other contact information from people who have posted in the comment section requesting loans.
These people then send out a flurry of spam mails to the aspiring borrowers wherein they pose either as loan sharks or some type of financial institution and will usually include a simulated loan application form in their messages. If you actually respond with any information, the scammer will promise to send you a loan pending the payment of some kind of fee. The excuse for having to pay the fee varies; sometimes it’s supposedly for shipping costs, insurance, or simply a deposit to “secure” the loan and cover administrative costs.
Whatever the reason, this is your first clue that you’re not dealing with a legitimate loan shark. A real lender, even a private one who operates underground in the black or grey markets, makes his or her money from the interest that is charged on the loan amount, not on fees paid before the loan is granted. Also, as many of you will surmise, it doesn’t make much sense for these types of lenders to charge advance fees because people who wind up begging for mercy from the loan sharks do not have much money left to begin with, hence the desperate sob stories found in the comments on some of our pages.
Unfortunately there have been many cases of gullible people actually paying fees to these fake loan sharks, only to realize that the money they sent to Nigeria through Western Union never comes back to them in the form of a real loan. To make matters worse, it is very difficult to recover money that is lost this way because the governments of countries where these scammers reside tend to be even more corrupt than our own, which means that as a practical matter the authorities rarely pursue these kinds of fraud cases.
Therefore, after much debate I have undertaken a thorough cleanup of the comment section, removing all email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information that scammers might use to find new victims. This has taken almost two days to complete because I have had to go through over 1,800 comments manually and make revisions where necessary. In some cases I was able to delete whole entries because they were duplicates of comments made on other pages, or they were simply postings that provided no real information.
This brings up a point that I need to make for visitors who want to post loan requests or other comments: please do not post copies of the same or similar text on multiple pages of the site, and do not post contact information in the comment body. Apparently many of our visitors do not realize that when they post their email addresses on public forums or websites, it is very easy for spammers to read and store this data with automated software programs that “crawl” the Internet, after which they send spam mails to all of the addresses that they have collected.
For future comments, I will implement a policy of editing out personal contact info while leaving the rest of the content intact. It will be somewhat of a hassle to pre-screen the comments this way, but it is becoming painfully clear that some people will need to be protected from their own stupidity in order to prevent them from falling prey to these scams. Although I strongly believe in a free market for the moneylending industry, outright fraud is a different matter and is something that I do not want this site to facilitate.
Meanwhile, if any of you have knowledge of real loan sharks (as opposed to the fake lenders mentioned above) feel free to relate your experiences with them here. One of my original goals for launching this site was to gather information on loan sharks online as well as those who operate offline in the neighborhoods where cash-strapped borrowers reside. If you happen to be a loan shark yourself (or at least someone who is thinking about entering this potentially lucrative corner of the finance industry), you can post in the comment section of our article on how to become a loan shark.