Consumer Alerts - 2015

  • Scam Tries to Rip Off Consumers in False Solicitation About Signal Oil Fraud Settlement (08/14/2015)
    A likely phony law firm is contacting people by phone and offering to send them a portion of funds recovered for investors in a securities fraud case against Signal Oil. The callers claim a Los Angeles, CA law firm called Palmer & Associates has investors’ restitution but will send the money only after receiving a fee equal to 20 percent of the victim’s share of the alleged settlement. They also falsely claim they have a contract with the California Department of Corporations (predecessor agency to the Department of Business Oversight) to disburse the money to defrauded investors. DO NOT SEND MONEY IF YOU RECEIVE ONE OF THESE CALLS. There is no Palmer & Associates law firm in Los Angeles. None of the alleged attorneys described on the Palmer Associates website appears to be licensed to practice law. The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has not contracted with any law firm, or anyone else, to disburse funds to defrauded investors in any case involving a company called Signal Oil. If you are contacted by a person or persons claiming to represent the Department of Corporations, you should contact your home-state securities regulator or local law enforcement agency.

  • Phony Lending Company License (07/22/2015)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified that an entity called “Lending America, Inc.” is falsely claiming to be licensed by DBO. Lending America is not a DBO-licensed lending company.

    Lending America, Inc,. also has been suspended by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to meet tax requirements (e.g. failure to file a return, pay taxes, penalties, interest).

    Using a licensed lending company affords protections under state law related to disclosures, fees and terms of repayment, and provides consumers recourse when they have a dispute with the firm.

    To check whether a lending company or other financial services provider is licensed, consumers should go to http://www.dbo.ca.gov/FSD/Licensees/default.asp or contact the DBO at 1-866-275-2677.

  • Fraudulent Loan Fee Solicitation (07/20/2015)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has received reports of what appears to be an advanced fee scam. Several consumers reported receiving correspondence from Advance America/Cash Advance telling them they were approved for a loan. After accepting the loan offer, consumers were told that they could not receive the loan unless they first paid a fee. Consumers were instructed to pay the fee using a prepaid card. Victims paid the fee, but never received the promised loan. State law prohibits companies from charging such advance fees.

    The original correspondence sent to consumers included loan documents and a letter that purported to be on Advance America/Cash Advance letterhead. Advance America is a DBO licensee. But it appears the sender of this correspondence was an entity fraudulently using Advance America’s name.

    To check whether a lending company or other financial services provider is licensed, or to file a complaint, consumers should contact the DBO at www.dbo.ca.gov or 1-866-275-2677.

  • Fraudulent Claim of “Keep Your Home California” Affiliation (07/16/2015)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified that a group called Leading Management Corp has been sending letters to people claiming an affiliation with Keep Your Home California (KYHC) and charging people for their services. KYHC has no relationship with this firm and never charges a fee for any of its programs, which provide California homeowners mortgage assistance.

    Leading Management Corp. is not licensed by the DBO, and does not have permission or authority to use the KYHC logo. Further, it is illegal in California to charge advance fees for mortgage modification services. Homeowners should decline any solicitation received via mail or telephone from this company. Homeowners should NOT send any advance payment to the company for any services. If you have received a letter from Leading Management Corp, please contact KYHC at 916-326-8686 or complianceunit@kyhca.org.

    To check whether a lending company or other financial services provider is licensed, or to file a complaint, consumers should contact the DBO at www.dbo.ca.gov or 1-866-275-2677.

  • Phony Debt Collection Scam (07/15/2015)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified that an entity claiming to be a collection agency has been calling members of the public attempting to collect on purported payday loan and other debts. Law enforcement and regulatory agencies in West Virginia and Michigan have issued consumer warnings about a potential scam operated from the phone number used by the alleged debt collection firm. The number is 745-535-8550.

    In one case, the alleged debt collector called a man and threatened to sue him unless he repaid a payday loan he purportedly received from B4Payday, a lender licensed by the DBO. In fact, the man had never received a payday loan from B4Payday and did not owe the lender any money.

    Debt collectors are not licensed by the State. They must, however, comply with state and federal laws that require fair treatment of consumers and prohibit unfair business practices. California consumers can file a complaint against a debt collector with the state Attorney General’s Office at http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=CL.

  • Phony Lending Company License (07/02/2015)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified that an entity called “Abd Al Rashid Fahim Lending Consultant” is using, without authorization, the name and doctored license of Bluevine Capital, Inc.   Bluevine Capital is a DBO-licensed lending company; Abd Al Rashid Fahim Lending Consultant is not. 

    Using a licensed lending company affords protections under state law related to disclosures, fees and terms of repayment, and provides consumers recourse when they have a dispute with the firm.

    To check whether a lending company or other financial services provider is licensed, consumers should contact the DBO at www.dbo.ca.gov or 1-866-275-2677.

  • Phony Escrow Company Website (06/23/2015)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified about a phony website – d-g-e.net – that is using, without authorization, the name, address and corporate identification number of Diamond Global Escrow, Inc.  Diamond Global is a DBO-licensed escrow company; D-g-e.net is not.  Diamond Global does not operate the website.

    Using a licensed escrow company affords protections under state law related to disclosures, fees and protection of funds, and provides consumers recourse when they have a dispute with the firm.

    To check whether an escrow company or other financial services provider is licensed, consumers should contact the DBO at www.dbo.ca.gov or 1-866-275-2677.

  • False Solicitation about Leland Energy Settlement (02/18/2015)
    The DBO has become aware that past investors in Leland Energy are being solicited by a purported New York State-licensed attorney claiming to have been hired by the State of California to contact them regarding $6.5 million in funds he claims to hold from the State’s 2012 settlement with Leland. For a fee, this person claims he will release those funds to the investor/victims. The DBO settled its case with Leland in January 2012, and Leland agreed, pursuant to the settlement, to directly repay certain California victims on a pro rata basis. The state has not retained an attorney to disburse funds to investors and has no settlement funds to disburse to investors. Anyone contacted by a person or persons claiming to represent the Department in this matter should contact their home-state securities regulator or local law enforcement.

  • DBO Commissioner Clarifies Coinbase Licensing Status in California (01/27/15)
    Department of Business Oversight Commissioner Jan Lynn Owen today issued the following statement to correct erroneous reports that Coinbase Exchange has received regulatory approval from the State:

    “Numerous press accounts about Coinbase’s Jan. 26 launch of Coinbase Exchange erroneously reported the Exchange has received regulatory approval from the State of California.  The California Department of Business Oversight has not decided whether to regulate virtual currency transactions, or the businesses that arrange such transactions, under the state’s Money Transmission Act.  California consumers should be aware Coinbase Exchange is not regulated or licensed by the State.”

    In the Jan. 26 announcement, Coinbase called the Exchange a platform for bitcoin trading.

    California consumers should contact the Department of Business Oversight to check on the licensing of companies, investments or other financial services they are considering by visiting the financial services licensee listing or calling the Department's toll-free Consumer Services Office at 1-866-275-2677.