Douglas Carter and James Spillers have been arrested by the Collier County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office for allegedly operating an advance fee for loan scheme targeting victims throughout the United States and Canada.
Both men have been charged with grand theft, scheme to defraud and 18 counts of unlawfully collecting advance fees from prospective borrowers.
The alleged scam involved Carter and Spillers assessing and collecting more than $900,000 from more than 100 prospective borrowers, at least 20 of whom were located in Florida. However, no loans were ever funded and most never received a refund. Victims allege they were left without a loan and the money they paid as an advance fee was lost. Carter and Spillers used various company names to perpetrate the scheme.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation was the lead investigative agency, partnering with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the fraud. The case is being prosecuted by the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
The OFR urges consumers to be mindful of certain potential red flags when seeking a loan. If you are in the market for a loan, be wary of the following:
- Unlicensed individuals. Verify the license of the company or individual with whom you plan to do business beforehand.
- Offers of guaranteed loan approval. Legitimate lenders rarely make such representations without first qualifying an applicant.
- Unsolicited offers. Being contacted by a loan broker does not necessarily mean that you are dealing with a legitimate lender or that the loan offering itself is legitimate.
- Upfront fees. Any loan broker who insists on collecting a fee before a loan transaction closes is acting outside the law.
The Florida OFR announced the arrests.
“It is illegal in Florida for a loan broker to assess or collect fees in advance of a loan closing,” said Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear. “The OFR remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to serve justice upon those who seek to prey on Floridians and illegally separate them from their hard earned dollars.”