May 26, 2018
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Scammers hijack MaineHousing’s name in online hoax

By Whit Richardson, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — What appears to be an online scam is using the Maine State Housing Authority’s name to entice people to hand over personal information in exchange for a payday loan.

The online advertisement, which appears on Google, claims to be a company associated with MaineHousing and offers “instant approval” of an “up to $1,000 payday loan quick approved in 60 minutes,” according to a media release from the housing agency.

Clicking on the ad brings a person to what appears to be a business website that asks for personal information, including a Social Security number, before advancing the money from one of up to 20 financial institutions.

“This ad appears to be a scam,” said MaineHousing Director John Gallagher. “We do not engage in this type of activity, and we urge consumers to not fall prey to its offers of fast cash.”

The only consumer loan MaineHousing offers is a first-time homebuyer mortgage, which the agency works with a number of legitimate financial institutions throughout the state to provide, Gallagher said.

He said he is concerned that the ad is targeting MaineHousing’s core customers: Those individuals who need rental and heating assistance.

MaineHousing has requested that Google remove the ad.

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