Consumer Alert Issued: “BellBrook Finance Center” Is Loan Scam, Not Located in Belfast, Maine

 Thousands Taken from Family of Active-Duty, Deployed Service Member;

Calls Received from New York, Virginia, Oregon; Others Victims Possible

GARDINER – Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection issued an alert Thursday to warn consumers about the prevalence of ‘advance fee’ consumer loan scams, and the frequency with which fraudulent companies claim to be located in Maine.  The most recent example involves “BellBrook Finance Center,” which purports to be located in Belfast.

BellBrook Finance Center solicited the family of a deployed active-duty service member from Virginia.  The company promised a $5,000 loan in exchange for advance payments via electronic payment, including $2,000 for insurance, $895 for a lenders’ fee, and $887.50 for five up-front monthly payments.  The money was paid through a money card company called Green Dot.  The loan was being sought to fund a trip for the service member’s wife to visit her deployed husband overseas.

“The prevalence of advance fee loan schemes is concerning,” said David Leach, Principal Examiner with the Bureau.  “BellBrook Finance Center is not licensed in Maine as a consumer lender, nor listed with corporate filings in the Secretary of State’s Office.”  Law enforcement officials in Belfast told Leach that no such company is located there, and that they have received other complaints about this scam.  A call to the company resulted in a “hang up” by an employee who refused to cooperate with the investigation.

“This case is among the most disturbing we’ve investigated in recent years, given the family’s circumstances, the planned use of the loan, and the excessive amount of up-front fees,” Leach added.  “BellBrook Finance Center preyed on a military family who could ill-afford to lose thousands of dollars.”

When consumers follow-through with transactions of this kind from bogus lenders, they’re often directed to transmit funds to an alternative location—often thousands of miles from the phony company address.   Once the advance fee is sent to the perpetrators, there is little chance of recovering those funds.

The Bureau notes that Maine has many reputable licensed lenders, and advises consumers to never wire or mail certified funds to unknown lenders.  The Bureau recommends that consumers deal only with known, licensed lenders, and encourages consumers to call the Bureau toll-free at 1-800-332-8529 to verify the status of lenders or check the Bureau’s licensed supervised lenders at www.credit.maine.gov.

The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection is part of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.   The Bureau licenses lenders, creditors and collectors; conducts periodic examinations of creditors to determine compliance with state laws; and responds to consumer complaints and inquiries.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sean on November 1, 2017 at 4:17 PM

    Anna disabled veteran myself and like an idiot I need a loan so and they said they would help me out as long as I fronted some money, they kept asking for more and more money. Again like an idiot I text paying for these stupid fees until I reached $3,000. When I told them I was finally sick of their s*** and then I wanted my check refund they said it would take 6 weeks before I would receive it. During the application process I could call and they would answer right away. Now when I call it goes straight to one guy and it kept claiming he was some Survey Company and when I kept trying to get a straight answer he called me retarded and said I have Down syndrome. So I decided to call from a different phone number and mention that I applied for a loan and suddenly he was interested in trying to help me. After which I confronted him and said I already applied for a loan and after paying so many fees you were supposed to send me a check after I cancel my application and I’ve yet to receive it. He then proceeded to repeatedly insult me and hang up on me. Now I’m somewhere between three and four thousand in the hole already living paycheck-to-paycheck therefore can’t pay my bills. What’s more frustrating and I’ve saved all my receipts and emails so I have a paper trail of everything that’s happened but I’m sure there’s no way to pursue any kind of legal action to get my money back.

    Reply

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