In an effort to get funding for my HUD purchase process, I went to PRIVATE MONEY GOLDMINE (PMG) with whom I have a membership and emailed several individuals who offer loans. Immediately I received several responses asking for personal information which is not out of the ordinary in this process. I would have gotten more suspicious if they had asked for my Social Security Number in the emails, but none did, just other personal information. After completing the applications online I sent the information back to the individuals. (The lenders who post on Private Money Goldmine have given authorization for people to contact them regarding loan applications requests.)
Two people contacted me by telephone to verify that I did exist and that my telephone number was legitimate. I explained the purchases that I wanted to make (but have not yet) and we discussed how we might work together. At this point I was just trying to make contact and make them aware that I might be contacting them again. One person immediately sent me back another email with the terms of the contract that he was proposing. There were no requests for money upfront and I feel confident this is a legitimate private lender.
However, the third company sent me a follow-up email stating that I would have to purchase PPI (PAYMENT PROTECTION INSURANCE) and pay for this upfront before any money could be wired to me. Now several things caught my attention in the second email—misspelling, wrong word usage (your for you’re), words placed backwards and extremely long run on sentences, email address for GMAIL. There is nothing wrong with a GMAIL domain email, but remember that it is free and anyone can get a free email from Google. I think “real” businesses tend to get an email with their company name in the email. (example: MaryLiggett@rockafeller.com). That is not to say that email is solely legitimate, but it is going to be more likely that it is.
Now I decided to investigate the company before I went any further. I emailed the company back and asked for more details on their company, their complete address, how they got my email address (since I could not find any of the names from the email on the PMG site (i.e. Nick Hoffman, Doug Smith, Loan Market Association). It was very disconcerting to have them refer to PMG although in all fairness PMG does not qualify their list of lenders; they merely provide a place for lenders and borrowers to meet on-line. In fact they caution the applicants to be suspicious if someone asks for money upfront and also request that you report the person to PMG so they can be removed from the list.
I went through the list on PMG to see if I could figure out to whom I sent the original email so I could report them to PMG, but there was no listing for any of the names in the email. (I have emailed PMG anyway to notify them of the possible problem and ask if they had a record of these names.)
I could really kick myself for not being more suspicious from the first email from the company, but was in too much of a hurry as I tried to line up funding for my purchases. These scammers now have all my personal information. Who knows what fraud they will commit using it. In any case, here are a few words of warning and steps that you should take with requests for personal information.
Before sending your personal information:
1) Be suspicious if the email does not appear professional with correct spelling, contact information provided. Call the telephone number listed if there is one and see who answers. Do they sound professional?
2) Ask the company to provide complete details on their company. Name , address, telephone number, license number that allows them to make loans in your state if required.
3) Once you receive their information, research them on the internet to see if there have been complaints about the company and what kind of complaints.
4) Contact BBB (Better Business Bureau--http://www.bbb.org.) Though not BBB accredited, they do show a company by the name of Loan Market Association LLC, 9597 Jones Rd., Box 324, Houston TX 77065 (940-892-0813). The email did have a telephone (940-238-0813) with the same prefix of 940 and the same last four numbers. So there is the possibility this is the same company or someone may be using their legitimate information for fraudulent purposes. I am going to contact them to see if any one of the people (Nick Hoffman or Doug Smith) actually works for them. I just tried calling the number and the telephone number 940-892-0813 just hangs up; no ring tone, no answer. Note that the address has Box 324. While this might be a very legitimate address anything with “box” number should be scrutinized because it is often a Private Mail Box (PMB). Unfortunately after 32 years in the Post Office I know that PMB’s are often linked to scams, so just be cautious.
5) Check www.scambook.com. You can find companies that have complaints against them and this site is free. Angie’s list ( ) is another good site but they charge for membership. On scambook I found a whole list of people who had sent the PPI insurance money to the address provided for Loan Market Association (although they did not say what the address was, it was in New Jersey). These people never received their loan funds. I also found additional complaints under different name for what appeared to be the same company.
6) If at all suspicious, don’t send your personal information. Now I am going to have to be extremely alert to possible mis-use of my information for scam purposes. I am usually more careful, but got lazy or rushed. Let’s say rushed, that doesn’t sound so lame.
Stay happy, healthy, and alert so the scammers don’t get your personal info.
Sara out. See more homes at: www.SweetHomesInCalifornia.com