TULSA, Okla. — Going into this holiday season, some hope life will get better.
After all, the past couple of years created hardships for many folks.
But when they looked for help in the form of a loan, they handed over what money they had, and received nothing in return.
The 2News Oklahoma Problem Solvers say con artists are preying on desperate and vulnerable people.
They set up sites advertising quick and instant loans, then make up reasons for why the applicant needs to send money first.
Take Jessica Murphy, for example, the past several months have been hard for many reasons.
"I had cervical cancer and I had to have surgery and for months I wasn't making any money."
She fell behind on her bills. Her credit score dropped.
So she took the advice of her friends and searched for a loan company.
Jessica says she "filled out a form online just basic information like my name and email and phone number and they called me."
A guy named Mike said she'd been approved but she first needed to send money for insurance.
"And I tried to explain to this man like I have no money, all the money that I have is what I'm sending you so I can get a bigger loan to pay my bills. Because I'm about to have surgery. I'm a single mother of two."
Mike assured her, as soon as he got the money, she'd receive a $3,000 loan.
"He asked me yet again for a third payment and that's when I was like absolutely not, I was like not only did I already send you all the money that I have to my name but I know that this is a scam."
In all, Jessica lost $700. She wasn't able to get any of it back.
"No, not a dime."
Cyber scam experts say it's illegal for any company to promise a loan and require payment before delivering.
But that is what scammers do, many times in the name of COVID relief.
"When anyone needs an emergency loan, they're in dire straits."
And TU cyber security expert Tyler Moore says that makes them prime targets for scammers who shamefully scheme to bait folks who need money the most, and many times, don't have time to think.
"This is exactly the kind of mark a cyber-criminal is looking for, someone who is making quick decisions and is desperate."
Jessica slowly got back on her feet. And she's paying down her debt. But she wants to warn anyone else in a similar situation.
"I know just how desperate I was feeling at the time and this man, he just seemed so sweet and genuine, but I mean these scammers that's their life, that's what they do, they come off as real, kind people who are real companies and they're just not."
And not only are they taking your money, but they're also stealing personal information that legitimate lenders might ask such as bank account information or your social security number.
Before choosing any lender, make sure they're registered in the state, have a good reputation, and thoroughly understand their website.
Contact the Problem Solvers:
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --