The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) and the Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC) are warning the public about fraudulent money lenders who are using social media to recruit "clients."

In a statement, the AMF and OPC said the fraudsters “target people with promises of personal, car or mortgage loans at very attractive rates in order to swindle them out of thousands of dollars in fees, payable in advance via bank transfer. In the process, they collect highly sensitive personal information, such as victims' banking information.”

The fraudsters claim to be affiliated with recognized financial institutions, but the company name they use often is not a name registered in Quebec and their websites may be hosted outside Quebec. These organizations have neither a certificate from the AMF nor a permit from the OPC.

Fees should never have to be paid in advance

The AMF and the OPC advise that consumers should never apply for a loan from a person or organization without first doing some research. Whether a loan is provided by a lender or a broker, no fees should ever have to be paid in advance. “Most importantly, regardless of the situation, you should never make a bank transfer to companies or individuals unless you are absolutely certain that they are honest.”

The AMF and OPC add that many people are facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are more vulnerable to fraudsters offering financing or advice to help them with debt problems.

Consumers who know of companies that illegally offer credit may report them to the AMF or the OPC and companies committing fraud must be reported to the police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.