United Capital Services / Fraud and cheating
Sometime in late May, I was online searching desperately for a loan and somehow, I ran across United Capital Services (ucenterprises.com) I filled out the application, but did not input my social security number because it was not a required field. When I hadn't heard anything from the company a week later, I attempted to send an e mail to the address listed on the site. It was returned. That should have been red flag number one.
On Thursday, June 15th, I was contacted by Derek Thomas. He left a voice mail message stating I was approved for the loan I applied for and that I should contact him as soon as possible. So I did. He advised me that he'd sent my application to several banks and private lenders, but due to my credit rating, I was only eligible for a secured loan. That should have been red flag number two-I didn't provide my social security number on my application, remember?
I applied for $9000.00 and according to Derek, I approved for that amount at a fixed rate of 8%. He told me I have three options to secure the loan: pay 5 months in advance @ $219.72 per month, pay $912.45 5 months in advance @182.49 per month, or purchase insurance in the amount of $800.00. That was the cheapest option and I'd just received my paycheck, so I went for it.
Derek explained that I'd have to Western Union the money to my private lender Kathy Hall and that I must not discuss the details of my loan with anyone. He said the fee to wire that much money would be considerable, but it would be refunded to me. He also said that after I have mase 4 consecutive and timely payments on my loan, that I'd be given the option to have the $800 insurance premium refunded to me applied towards my loan pay off.
Derek faxed me the fraudulent and supposed loan documents and I quickly signed them and faxed them back with a copy of my driver's license as requested. I called him to confirm that the fax was received and he said I should call him 10 minutes before heading to Western Union. He also promised the funds would be in my account within an hour after confirming receipt of the payment.
I told Derek I was leaving to head for Western Union at 2 pm ET. I had some trouble cashing my paycheck. Derek called me a total of 6 times to be sure I was sending the money. I found this odd, but continued on. Because I was short on time and had to go through the whole process of filling out a new member form at ACE Cash Express, I ended up having to send the money via Money Gram. Derek said sending the money via Money Gram would delay the process a little.
The clerk at ACE Cash Express tried to warn me that this was a scam, but I was desperate and all I could think about was paying all my debts and never being scared to answer my own phone again. Derek was on the phone with me the whole time and warned me against disclosing any details about the loan. At one point, he told me to tell the clerk to mind her own business. I wired money to Kathy Hall in Calgary, Alberta Canada.
I gave Derek the reference number for the Money Gram and he said he would call back in 5 minutes. When he called back, he said he was on his way to the bank and I could hear what sounded like traffic in the back ground so I believed him. He said it would take 10 minutes for him to verify the reference number. He said the entire process, including depositing my loan proceeds would take an hour.
Exactly one hour later, I checked my account and it was bone dry. I called Derek and he didn't pick up. I recognized that red flag. He called back 2 minutes later and said he was still at the bank and I should check my account in about 45 minutes. Here it is a week later and there are checks bouncing in my account because I was so sure I'd be $9000.00 richer.
I called Derek three times that same day, very frantic because I taking an emergency flight the next day due to a death in my fiance's family. No answer. I called Derek the next morning (Friday) before my flight and explained that I needed him to call me back before I got on the plan because he would not be able to reach me afterwards. Still no answer.
I'd called my bank Thursday night to see if there were any pending deposits and was told that any deposits made after 2 pm would not post until 12 midnight, the day (or night) after the deposit was made, which would have been 12 midnight Saturday. I still felt like there was hope, but I checked my account then and there was still no money.
I tried calling Derek early Saturday morning and I almost fell out. An automated message stated 'your universal office account has temporarily been placed on hold. Please contact customer service.' I couldn't believe it-I had been scammed!!! I can't even begin to describe that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I've never felt such rage in my entire life. I still cannot understand why someone would do this to me-or to anyone for that matter.
I'm not one to be screwed over and take it lying down, so as soon as I got back home, I immediately went to FTC.com and filed a complaint. They responded a day later and referred me to several consumer agencies. One in particular was Phonebusters. This is the place you call if you feel or know the business is operating out of Canada. I spoke to Doyle who was extremely helpful and sympathetic.
Just Tuesday, I received 4 calls from other so called lenders and they all were running the same scam. I called them all back and left messages stating I know what they are up to and I've been fooled once and now I'm completely broke. No fool, no more.
I have taken several steps to ensure that I will be protected if they try to use my information to defraud or scam anyone else. I will not stop until these people are caught. I was shocked and so sorry to see that the exact same company had done this to someone else. But I was also kind of happy because this means that we may be able to catch these people that much faster and get the justice we deserve. I do intend to start a lawsuit, so I hope more people come forward if this has happened to them.