Phenix City couple loses hundreds of dollars in online loan sche - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Phenix City couple loses hundreds of dollars in online loan scheme

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William Houston and Cathyrn Gann William Houston and Cathyrn Gann
COLUMBUS, Ga. - An online scheme cost a local couple hundreds and threw a wrench in their plans to buy Christmas presents for their children and grandchildren.

William Houston and Cathyrn Gann were relieved when they were accepted for a loan. Their relief quickly turned to panic when they realized they had been taken advantage of. The couple spent their weekend searching for loans online in order to buy Christmas gifts. They filed out an application with their personal information including social security and drivers license numbers and on Monday received  voicemail from a man claiming to be with Advance America.

"The reason for my call was to inform you that your loan application has been successfully approved and accepted for a cash advance. Before we process that application, I need you to call me back on my toll free number," the couple recalls the caller saying.

The couple quickly called the man back and were told in order to get the $2,000 loan, they needed to show - in good faith - that they had $200. They went to a store to purchase a reloadable Vanilla Card and read the caller the pin number.

"He was supposed to just check it to see if I had it, and instead he took the $200 completely off the card," said William Houston.

The couple was devastated.

"We were getting the money up for Christmas. To buy our grand kids and kids something. I wasn't expecting it to be a scam," said Houston.

The couple went to the Better Business Bureau to report the situation and get help.

"You not only open yourself up to having your money stolen. There's a lot of headaches and heartaches with trying to recapture your identity," said the BBB's Leonard Crain.

Crain suggests going into your local bank to get a loan. However, Crain says those looking to shop online for loans should: make sure the website is secure with a HTTPS: address; check for a physical location; and contact phone number. He also warned couples such Houston and Gann should be cautious: fraudulent individuals might even pretend to be lawyers to get more of your money.

"What's going happen then is the lawyer is then going to ask you to get a card, load it, and give them the pin," said Crain.

The couple is working with the BBB and the card company to try and get their funds back. The BBB said there have been various scams going around asking individuals to load money onto a pre-paid card. They say you should not give those pin numbers to anyone unless you personally know them.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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