What the financially struggling married mother of two didn't know is that, this time, she wasn't dealing with Advance America, but with scam artists instead.
These scammers had copied information from Advance America's website and were posing as representatives of the company, fraudulently taking money from financially desperate people.
"It's a huge problem," said
Transue said she took advantage two years ago of Advance America's payday service to pay off a
Transue has received numerous emails in recent months from someone claiming to be with Advance America. She initially thought these emails were the company's way of reaching out to former customers and reminding them its services are still available if needed.
"It's my only account," she said. "It was all the money I had. My next paycheck wouldn't be for another two weeks. None of my family or friends are in any real position to help. I had no idea what I was going to do and I had bills piling up."
Five days later, on
Borrowed from her son
Shortly after submitting requested basic information via email, she was contacted in a series of phone calls by two men claiming to be Advance America loan officers.
"They already had the last four digits of my social security number and knew where I work," Transue said.
The men identified themselves as
"We talked and they emailed me a loan confirmation with term conditions, some other information and their phone number," Transue said.
The information she received said the loan was for
"They told me I needed to buy a Reloadit card for
With an overdrawn account and no other money, she had to borrow the
"I felt so ashamed and terrible to have to borrow money, let alone that much money, from my own son," she said in tears. "He's just starting out himself and that's pretty much his paycheck."
Demand for more money
Transue bought the card at an area Weis Market, called Walker back and gave him the card number.
"That's when he told me I needed to go buy another card for
Transue began hearing a lot of static in the background and was unable to hear Walker when he explained the reason for the documentation fee.
"It got so staticky I just hung up," she said. "Then, he called me back and asked, 'Why did you hang up? Don't you want this loan?' I told him, 'I couldn't hear what you were saying.'
"We went back and forth some more and I told him, 'Look, I'm not paying this documentation fee because there's nothing about it mentioned in any of the paperwork you sent me and you mentioned nothing about it when we first spoke,'" she said. "And then, he said, 'Fine, then I'm taking the
Transue then told a friend what had happened. When she went to her friend's house, they contacted a customer service phone number on the back of the Reloadit card.
"The customer service rep told me the
Transue and her friend did some online research.
A reverse phone number lookup shows the number for Walker and Jones, 206-497-4421, registered to Ymax Oration in
No one answered at that number when the Pocono Record called it.
Advance America has nothing to do with Ymax Oration, said Fulmer.
"What these people did to this poor woman is so contrary to how we do business," he said. "We don't conduct transactions over the phone. We're a legitimate, regulated company that provides transparency to our customers. We're up front with the people we serve and don't shy away from anyone questioning our legitimacy.
"The problem is that
Transue has contacted state police and the
Authorities are investigating.
--Beware of suspicious emails with offers or threats about taxes or other debts owed.
--Don't fill out forms in emails requesting personal information.
--Ensure your computer browser is up to date with proper security patches.
--Check your bank, credit and debit card statements regularly for any unauthorized transactions and contact your bank and all card issuers if anything looks suspicious. Use numbers on the back of your card or bank statement when contacting companies.
--If receiving a suspicious phone call about owing a debt, ask the caller to provide their name, company name, address and phone number and official documentation verifying the debt. Don't provide or confirm your bank account, credit card or
--Report suspicious emails or phone calls to Advance America's customer comment line at 888-310-4238 and to local law enforcement.
(c)2014 the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Visit the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. at http://www.poconorecord.com/
Distributed by MCT Information Services