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Sketchy TikTok ads push high-interest payday loans

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A gaggle of secretive TikTok advertisers are using sketchy tactics to push massive loans that experts say could run afoul of deceptive promoting laws, The Post has learned.

A few of the ads tease “almost fast” five-figure deposits despite horrible credit, while others appear to imply they’re part of presidency “inflation programs” and use the logos of reports organizations like CNN.

Money-strapped borrowers who click on links in most of the ads are asked for sensitive personal information, including their Social Security and checking account numbers.

“At best, these videos are designed to make you surrender information that you simply shouldn’t that may lead to more solicitations,” John Breyault, vice chairman of advocacy group the National Consumer League, told The Post. “At worst, this can be a complete scam designed either to take your money or information for fraudulent purposes.” 

One typical TikTok lending ad opens with a shot of the words “US Government Inflation Program 2022” over a video of the US Capitol. 

Some ads appear to imply they’re part of presidency “inflation programs.”TikTok

“US government inflation program helps Americans get a loan, even with horrible credit,” a voiceover says in somewhat broken English. “You’ll be able to stand up to $50,000 just filling easy form.” 

The ad then cuts to a shot from the attitude of an individual holding stacks of hundred-dollar bills in a automotive. 

“I’m using my money to cover my bills, get some gas for the remainder of the 12 months and canopy my medical needs,” the voiceover says. “Click the link below, fill the shape in as little as 60 seconds and see how much you may get. Thank me later.” 

Individuals who click the link, which ends up in a site called “Lavish Funds,” are asked to fill out forms with personal information including checking account details, Social Security numbers and addresses. 

Lavish Funds says that it then forwards applicants’ information to lenders, who can respond with loan offers with annual rates of interest of as much as 35.99% over terms of as much as 4 years. If someone were to take out a loan under the sites’ maximum terms — $50,000 paid back at 35.99% APR over 4 years — the user would ultimately be on the hook for greater than $137,000. 

TikTok logoExperts say TikTok advertisers’ sketchy tactics to push massive loans could run afoul of deceptive promoting law.REUTERS

Breyald said that the loans being advertised by Lavish Funds and similar sites are “terrible” for the overwhelming majority of consumers. 

“35.99% APR is higher than a few of the highest bank card loans on the market,” he said.

Each Breyault and Bartlett Naylor, a financial policy advocate with consumer rights group Public Citizen, said that the ads risk violating Federal Trade Commission rules on deceptive promoting. 

@Loanssy TikTok ad for a loanOther ads use the logos of reports organizations like CNN.TikTok

“If it’s implied it’s a government program and also you click on and it’s not a government program, my advice is: You’re being scammed,” Naylor said, advising people to “stay away” and calling on TikTok take a harder line against personal loan ads.

After The Post contacted TikTok for comment on ads from Lavish Funds and other corporations, the social media site took them down on account of violations of its promoting policies, which ban “misleading, inauthentic, and deceptive behaviors.”

“Advertisers and ad content must follow our Community Guidelines, Promoting Guidelines, and Terms of Service, and content that violates these guidelines can be removed,” a TikTok spokesperson told The Post.

When The Post emailed the one available email address on the Lavish Funds website for comment, the messages bounced back. A phone number listed on the location went straight to a voicemail box, which was full. The Lavish Funds site lists an address for a constructing in Dover, Del., that sells “virtual office services” for $50 per 30 days.  

The FTC said that it doesn’t comment on “whether it’s investigating any specific company, individual, or business practice.” The agency has not announced actions against any of the sites in this text, however it does continuously sue corporations the agency says are falsely claiming to be affiliated with the US government. 

Lavish Funds is removed from the one advertiser to make use of dubious techniques on TikTok. An ad that links to a site called PersonalLoanPro shows what appears to be a fake CNN segment. It flashes “BREAKING NEWS” that “AMERICANS CAN NOW CLAIM UP TO $50,000.” 

“They’re showing it again,” a person says as he points at a TV showing the segment. “That is how I got my money.” 

The camera then flips around to the person’s face as he says, “A latest profit just got released last week, allowing Americans to say as much as $50,000. You don’t need any credit history in any respect — no bank requirements. I did it myself and I got $8,000 in two days.” 

An analogous Facebook version of the video was slapped with a “False Information” warning in May — but as of mid-June, it was still being advertised on TikTok with none disclosure. 

@Loanssy TikTok ad for a loanSome loan sites ask people to enter sensitive information including their Social Security numbers.TikTok

Other ads that link to PersonalLoanPro feature various narrators gushing about receiving money through the location. In a single, the text “Got $45,000 almost INSTANTLY” appears onscreen as a female narrator walks as much as a person and says, “Babe, where’d you get all that cash?” 

The person shows an internet banking account on his phone and says, “It’s actually insane. I just got a $45,000 loan and it’s already in our checking account.” 

In one other ad, a male narrator sitting in a automotive holds up wads of hundred dollar bills and gushes a couple of loan being the “last minute miracle I absolutely needed.” 

Like Lavish Funds, PersonalLoanPro asks people to enter sensitive information including their Social Security numbers. It says it should then refer them to lenders who may offer them loans with rates of interest of as much as 35.99% APR over terms of as much as 15 years. 

“Mainly they are saying something like, ‘No person else knows about this, I wish I’d find out about this sooner’ — and so they show you stacks of money,” Breyault said. “it’s laughable on its face, however it’s a typical tactic.”

PersonalLoanPro’s site says it’s owned by a Durango, Colo.-based company called On The Barrelhead. Email inquiries sent to each PersonalLoanPro and On The Barrelhead went unanswered, while a call to a phone number from On The Barrelhead’s site went straight to voicemail. 

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