Scam artist attacks city pocketbooks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

A company representing itself as Primerica Financial Services isn’t really providing a service after all. And when the company says it can guarantee you a loan, no matter if you owe $1 million to the IRS, it’s probably a sham.

On Friday, investigators with a company in Atlanta realized they have been shammed in Demopolis. An advertisement, paid in advance by credit card, has appeared on a number of occasions in The Demopolis Times.

The ad, which claims it can help poor credit appliers assume a loan for a new house or car, is bogus, according to the "real" Primerica, based in Atlanta.

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The company also said that the common way of advertising is through local newspapers.

According to Det. Sgt. Tim Soronen with the Demopolis Police Department, callers have the option of leaving a message for a sales representative. Then, a sales rep from the bogus company calls the prospective client back and obtains all sorts of person information &045; like a Social Security number.

Once a person is "immediately" approved for credit, that person is told to wire &045; via Western Union &045; a sum of money ranging from $200 to $300. That customer is told the wired money is used for an "insurance policy" on the loan.

Obviously, the loan money never arrives and by the time the customer is duped, the company has shut down and disconnected its phone number.

In the case of The Times, the advertisement was paid for in advance with a credit card. Thirty days later, the credit card company called The Times back and notified the newspaper that the card number was not valid.

According to the "real" Primerica, customer representatives never take money over the phone and all loan transactions require a face-to-face meeting.

If residents in Demopolis or surrounding areas have experienced trouble with this company, they can call Soronen at 289-4017, or Steve Benton at (770) 564-6121.