The phone rang and rang. The sinking feeling in his stomach started to grow. Then he decided to check the website and it was no longer there. Spots started to appear in his eyes and he felt sick with regret. What had he done?
Raising a family is never easy, but Nathan and Madison Donovan managed to scrape by. They worked hard and had saved what little money they earned since they left school. But an unexpected disaster struck the small family. With Nathan unable to work, they found themselves totally reliant on social assistance. Nathan was involved in a severe car accident that resulted in a back injury that had left him immobile.
Madison, determined to support her two small children, was forced to return to work. But then life threw Madison another curveball and there was only one option left. Little did the Donovans know, their troubles were far from over. Madison got a job downtown, working night shifts at a call center. But there was a huge problem.
The buses didn’t run that route at night. Madison needed a car so that she could travel safely to and from work. So she sat down with Nathan and they talked about what to do next. The struggling couple was having a hard time just making ends meet. How are they going to manage to buy a car?
It was a vicious circle. Eventually, they decided to take out a loan. They worked out that they would just be able to make the monthly payments. And when Madison got her first paycheck, they thought that things would be easier. But they were so very wrong.
Nathan and Madison immediately started to look into applying for a loan. But there was another problem. They would need someone to sign for surety. Nathan could only think of his mother, but she lived in Nova Scotia and couldn’t travel to Montgomery to sign the documents. That’s when everything started to go horribly wrong.
With Nathan’s mother unable to travel, the couple decided to go through an intermediary company. There, on the first page of Google, they found what they thought was the answer to their prayers. It was a loan company called East Liberty Finance Group, and they appeared to be based in New York. They never dreamed that this company would be less than honest in their dealings. Nathan explained his logic in choosing this company in an interview with CBC.
It wasn’t like on the 14th page and it’s getting kind of sketchy. It was on the first page. They had licensing numbers, their tax numbers. They sent us the loan papers and we were able to sign them online, like digitally sign them. Nathan checked the company’s website and thought that it looked very legit.
Shortly after he’d filled out the paperwork, he received a confirmation that the loan had been approved and that the money would be transferred into his account within 6 hours. The hours passed and there was still no transfer. Nathan called the company to see what the hold up was. They then told him that he was required to provide a further $600 as further collateral and also purchase loan insurance. The transfer of $600 needed to be made through Western Union to a bank account in Ontario, Canada.
Nathan thought this was strange, but he knew he needed to get the loan. His family depended on it. Thinking that the company was just following protocol, Nathan transferred the family’s last $600 just after clicking Send. He thought about it slowly. It dawned on him that he’d just been scammed and his heart plummeted.
Nathan immediately sent an email to the loan company, but they were already long gone with his money. Suddenly, the company stopped answering phone calls and their website had mysteriously disappeared. Embarrassed, Nathan called the Better Business Bureau, RCMP, and the fraud division at Western Union to report the scam. He had no expectation of ever seeing his money again, but he had a faint hope that justice would be served. He had no idea that his story was about to catch the attention of one particular man.
When Denise LeBlanc of Diab and his wife happened to hear about the Donovan’s story on a radio talk show, they immediately thought of the VW Volkswagen Jetta that they’d been struggling to sell. The asking price have been $3,700, but the offers they received so far had been far below that. The LeBlanc decided that they may as well give the car away for free. Then they heard Nathan’s story. Leblanc discussed donating the car with his wife, and that’s what they decided when they could do without the money.
So they contacted the talk show and managed to get the Donovan’s address. Thanks to the generous couple, Nathan and Madison awoke to a new car in their driveway. But they’re not the only ones to fall prey to Internet loan scams. Nathan was unaware that advanced fees are illegal in Canada. Peter Moorehouse, the CEO and President of the Better Business Bureau in Atlantic, Canada, advises that if an online lender ever asks for advanced fees or extra collateral, that they’re scammers.
The fact that that was the structure of this arrangement, that’s what distinguishes it as a scam, he explained. Morehouse added that it’s unfortunate that scammers tend to target people who really can’t afford to lose their money. I think you have to be a special sort of evil to target people who really can’t afford to be scammed in the first place. David Shipley, CEO of Abuser on Security and Cybersecurity expert, has some advice to avoid falling prey to online scams. Shipley said that desperate families need help to avoid the same situation as the Donovans.
Nathan added that after the incident, he couldn’t afford to feed his family. I almost walked out of Sobes the other day with two loaves of bread and I turned around and went back. I can’t walk away with two loaves of bread, you know what I mean? But other people can just take everything you have. But how do the scammers get away with it?
Rcmp Corporal Lieutenant Lemieux from new Brunswick explains that there are countless websites online that are created for the sole purpose of scamming people. It’s almost impossible to monitor all these websites and when the funds are transferred overseas there’s very little chance of getting it back. But the people applying for loans aren’t the only victims. Lemue added that there’s always a middleman involved. This person will collect the money that’s sent to Western Union in Canada but this person is often a victim as well and will have no idea what the money’s for.
They’re just in a love relationship and they’re being told I need help to get $4,000 over here. I’ve got a friend that’s going to wire it to you. Can you forward? Lemue explains. At least Nathan and Madison are on the right track after they were dealt the devastating blow.
Everything is going awesome. The car is great, Madison’s working full time and we’re no longer on assistance which was our goal. We have a renewed sense of hope not only in our financial future but in our fellow man, Nathan says. Happily.