Consumer Alerts - 2016

  • Unlicensed Bank Warning: Greenwood Commercial Bank (11/28/2016)
  • The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) on Nov. 9 issued a cease and desist order against Greenwood Commercial Bank to stop it from operating without a license.  Greenwood purports to be a bank located at 555 12th Street, Suite 500, Oakland, California 94607.  It is not authorized to transact business as a bank, nor is it authorized to transact business under a name which contains the word “bank” and indicates the business is that of a bank.  Any person who has communicated with Greenwood should contact the DBO Legal Division at (415) 263-8541.

  • Steve McFarlane dba Courageous Investment Solutions LLC and/or ADVANCE AMERICA, CASH ADVANCE CENTERS OF CALIFORNIA, LLC  - ADVANCE FEE SCAM  (08/12/2016)

    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has received reports of what appears to be an advanced fee loan scam.  Consumers report receiving correspondence from “Steve A. McFarlane” or “Steve McFarlane” with a Missouri address, doing business as “Courageous Investment Solutions LLC” or “Advance America” and/or “Cash Advance Centers of California LLC,” telling them that they were approved for a loan.  After accepting the loan offer, consumers learned that they could not receive the loan unless they first paid a fee and were instructed to pay the fee using a prepaid card.  The consumers paid the fee, but never received the promised loan.  State law prohibits companies from charging such advance fees or any fees unless the loan is made. 

    In these cases, the correspondence sent to the consumers included a copy of a DBO License for “ADVANCE AMERICA; CASH ADVANCE CENTERS OF CALIFORNIA, LLC,” that was fraudulently altered to show the name “Steve McFarlane” in the area that should contain the name of the DBO Commissioner.

    The DBO urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before responding to any solicitation promoting loans or other offers. For more information on this type of scam and other fraudulent schemes, check out DBO’s Protect Yourself From Fraud publication posted on the DBO website. For information on filing a complaint, consumers should contact the DBO at www.dbo.ca.gov or 1-866-275-2677.

  • Scam falsely claims association with Western Union, United Nations (07/20/2016)

    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has received reports of a scam fraudulently using Western Union’s name. Several consumers reported receiving emails purporting to be from Western Union claiming the recipient has been approved to receive the sum of $1.5 million from a United Nations (UN) “poverty alleviation program.” The message claims the recipient will receive installment payments of $7,600 via Western Union, but only after providing the sender personal information.

    A second email claims the recipient has been awarded a $600,000 prize as part of a celebration of the UN’s 161st anniversary. The fraudulent solicitation says the recipient will receive their prize only after providing personal and financial information, including bank account number and bank routing number.

    These emails are NOT from Western Union and do not represent legitimate prize awards. Western Union has no connection with the perpetrators of this scam, whose goal is to steal victims’ money or their identity.

    The DBO urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before responding to any solicitation that claims they’re in line to win a large sum of money from a program or contest or promotion they know nothing about. For more information on this type of scam and other fraudulent schemes, check out DBO’s Protect Yourself From Fraud publication posted on the DBO website.

  • Fraudulent Company ‘Michael Investment LLC’ Not Licensed by DBO (05/24/2016)

    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified an entity calling itself “Michael Investment LLC,” with a possible principal “Michael Anthony,” is offering loans to consumers, claiming it holds a lender’s license with DBO. Reportedly, the entity also is presenting falsified licensing documents with the DBO seal and staff signatures. They claim a false DBO license number 60CAO44561 and claim their address is 10 South Hope St., Los Angeles, CA.

    This company does not have a license with DBO.

    The DBO advises individuals who receive lending solicitations to verify the entity’s licensing status by visiting the DBO website at http://www.dbo.ca.gov/FSD/Licensees/default.asp, or calling DBO at 1-866-275-2677.

  • “American Premier Escrow LLC” purporting to be DBO Licensee American Premier Escrow Inc. (05/17/2016)

    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified that a company using the names “American Premier Escrow LLC” or “American Escrow,” and the website www.americanpremierescrow.com, is claiming to be licensed by DBO, and is using the address of DBO licensee “American Premier Escrow Inc.”

    “American Premier Escrow Inc.” and affiliated company “Unisource Escrow Inc.” both hold active Escrow Licenses with DBO, both use website www.unisourcejv.com and both list an address at 2530 Red Hill Ave. #110, Santa Ana, California.

    The fraudulent company “American Premier Escrow LLC” is NOT licensed by DBO to conduct escrow activity. The fraudulent company also appears to be using the name “American Escrow,” the website www.americanpremierescrow.com, the licensee’s Santa Ana address and a Michigan phone number. The fraudulent company also appears to be offering employment services. Beware.

    To check whether an escrow company or other financial service provider is licensed, or to file a complaint, consumers should go to the DBO website at http://www.dbo.ca.gov/FSD/Licensees/default.asp, or call 1-866-275-2677.

  • Unlicensed online securities broker-dealer services and sales of CDs (05/04/2016)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified two related companies have been offering unlicensed online securities broker-dealer services and unregistered sales of certificates of deposit (CDs).  The two firms are Leitner Investments (dba Steve Leitner) at www.leitnerinvestments.com and Monroe Financial at www.monroefp.com/ and www.monroefinancialservices.com.  These two companies sometimes fraudulently claim to be a DBO licensee named “Monroe Financial Partners Inc.”

    Monroe Financial and Leitner Investments are NOT licensed by DBO.  Both claim to be located at 8200 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, California, but could be claiming any number of Southern California addresses.

    The DBO advises consumers that using a licensed securities broker-dealer affords protections under state law related to disclosures, fees and protection of funds, and provides recourse if there is a dispute with the broker-dealer.

    California consumers should check on the licensing status of broker-dealers by visiting the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) online broker check at http://brokercheck.finra.org, or calling the DBO’s Consumer Services Office toll-free at (866) 275-2677.

  • Fraudulent Company Using Identity of DBO Payday Lender Licensee (04/25/2016)

    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified an entity calling itself “Check City” is using, without authorization, the name and doctored license of “Check City, a dba of CCO California Inc.” They solicit would-be customers for a payday loan, ask for “the first payment” in advance, and then fail to deliver the loan. Check City and CCO California Inc. are DBO-licensed lending companies based in Utah, license # 1003412. The fraudulent entity, calling itself “Check City” and claiming to be in Virginia, is not licensed with DBO.

    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.

    The DBO advises individuals who receive such solicitations to verify the entity’s licensing status by visiting the DBO website at http://www.dbo.ca.gov/FSD/Licensees/default.asp.

  • Check Scam Using Identity of DBO Escrow Licensee (03/09/2016)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified unknown persons are attempting to cash fraudulent checks they falsely represent as issued by DBO licensee Foresite Escrow Inc. The perpetrators are contacting individuals through Craigslist and other websites and purporting to buy services or goods with the fraudulent checks. The perpetrators ask the provider of the service or goods to cash the check and return the remaining amount to the perpetrators. Foresite Escrow Inc. is not issuing these checks, nor has it authorized any individual to do so.

    The DBO advises individuals who receive such contacts to notify local law enforcement authorities. To check whether an escrow company or other financial service provider is licensed, or to file a complaint, consumers should go to the DBO website at http://www.dbo.ca.gov/FSD/Licensees/default.asp, or call 1-866-275-2677.

  • Etrion Trading Corporation (02/24/2016)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified Etrion Trading Corporation is offering escrow services to consumers through the unauthorized use of Escrow.com’s license number.  Escrow.com is a DBO-licensed online escrow company.  Etrion Trading Corporation is not an affiliate of Escrow.com and its website, etrion-corporationzone.czweb.org, is not a website of Escrow.com.

    Etrion Trading Corporation is not licensed to conduct escrow activity by the DBO.

    The DBO advises consumers that using a licensed escrow company affords protections under state law related to disclosures, fees and protection of funds, and provides recourse if there is a dispute with the company.

    California consumers should check on the licensing status of escrow companies and other financial service providers by visiting the DBO’s financial service licensee listing or calling the DBO’s Consumer Services Office toll-free at (866) 275-2677.

  • Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Leak – Consumer Guidance (02/09/2016)

    The Department of Business Oversight has asked its financial service licensees to help consumers and homeowners cope with financial hardship caused by the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak and issued consumer guidance with more details.

  • Check Scam Using Identity of DBO Escrow Licensee (01/12/2016)
    The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) has been notified unknown persons are attempting to cash fraudulent checks they falsely represent as issued by DBO licensee Prominent Escrow Services, Inc. The perpetrators are contacting individuals through Craigslist and other websites and purporting to buy purchase services or goods with the fraudulent checks. The perpetrators ask the provider of the service or goods to cash the check and return the remaining amount to the perpetrators. Prominent Escrow Services, Inc. is not issuing these checks, nor has it authorized any individual to do so. The DBO advises individuals who receive such contacts to notify local law enforcement authorities. To check whether an escrow company or other financial service provider is licensed, or to file a complaint, consumers should go to the DBO website at http://www.dbo.ca.gov/FSD/Licensees/default.asp, or call 1-866-275-2677.