12 ON YOUR SIDE: Warning about loan offer text message

Published: Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:44 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Not every text that shows up on your phone is legit. Some messages come with potential danger.

12 On Your Side investigates a text that appears to be from an international financial institution - but it's not.

If you get a text directing you to a company promising cash right now, and bad credit is ok, delete the message and spare yourself the trouble.

It may not be a scam, but you could wind up paying a lot for a small loan.

Mary Presley had suspicions from the start that the text on her cell is a bait-and-hook fraud. It claims to come from Wells Fargo Bank - that's the bait.

"Wells Fargo has approved you for a $1000 cash loan wired to your account in 24 hours!"

It instructs Presley, who's been looking for a job since she got laid off in December, to apply for the fast cash advance from her mobile phone online at That's the hook - Presley did not grab.

"People have a hard enough time now," said Presley. "If these people that do this kind of thing, would work as hard at a legitimate job, they could be millionaires."

When you click on, payday lending options pop up. A long list of short-term loan offers entice people desperate for emergency cash.

Filling out the application means giving up personal and banking information.

The same text that Presley reported, I forwarded to Wells Fargo Corporate Communications.

"That text message is not endorsed by Wells Fargo," said Kristy Marshall. "We do not contact our customers in that form."

Also, online payday loans are illegal in Virginia. It's ok to search for a lender online, and even fill out an application, that's all legal - but the deal must be closed face-to-face.

These type messages are prevalent and have many different company names and numbers attached.

"It's one of the hardest crimes to track down, so that's why we just encourage our customers to not give out any information and to come and verify it."

I called the number on the text and got a 'not in service' message. An internet search didn't turn up much, except the mystery number is out of Tampa, Florida, Hillsborough County.

Presley followed her instincts and is now focused on alerting others.

"I just... just need a job. I just want people to be aware because life's too hard to be cheated. We work to make a living, not to be cheated."

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