GARDINER, Maine — State regulators issued an alert Wednesday to consumers nationwide to advise of a fraudulent advance fee loan scam operated by two Florida companies named Fairfield Brokerage and Oracle Lending Group LLC. Both unlicensed companies purport to be located in the Time and Temperature Building at 477 Congress St. in Portland. Neither company is housed in that Portland landmark, according to the Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.
Officials said several out-of-state consumers have called the bureau with questions about professional-looking websites posted by the two companies that purport to offer short-term consumer loans. In each instance the consumers were asked to transfer advance fees to a Florida money transmitter location in order to secure the promised loans. The consumers became suspicious and contacted the bureau to learn that neither company is a licensed lender, and that advance fee consumer loans are illegal under federal law.
“Advance fee loan scams are a growing financial menace ,” said David Leach, principal examiner with the bureau. “Whether it’s an attractive website, a direct mail offer or convincing telemarketing call, offers to make loans to consumers in exchange for upfront fees are sure ways for consumers to lose significant amounts of their hard-earned money.”
Leach explained that all states license lenders, and warned consumers that if they receive an offer for a loan from an unknown source, they should never commit funds without first checking with authorities to determine whether it’s licensed and whether other consumers have filed complaints.