The lure of easy money can be tempting to anyone facing a credit crunch, especially when the lender lists a Sioux Falls location as its address. But one brick and mortar business that's supposed to be on South Minnesota Avenue turns out to be a phantom financer.
One customer ended up paying $16,000 in advance fees, but never got the loan. It's not uncommon for scammers to list an anonymous P.O. Box as its mailing address. But this money lender, operating under the names of USA Cash Advance and Payday Loans of America lists its place of business as 2138 S. Minnesota.
A cab driver should have no trouble finding an address in Sioux Falls. But Ren Hruska of Sierra Cab Company couldn't point us in the right direction of 2138 S. Minnesota
Perry: What is this over here?
Hruska: 2116 and that's the south, last building from the corner. That should be the 2000 block, so I don't think that exists.
Perry: You know what? You're right.
2138 South Minnesota would be right about here, where there's a neighborhood crime watch sign posted.
"I drove down there, I took some pictures and the Sioux Falls office, there's nothing," Better Business Bureau State Director Jessie Schmid said.
The Better Business Bureau did some digging and found the loan company is actually based out of Jamaica, a long way away from South Minnesota Avenue.
"We've had phone calls from a Jamaican phone number, we've made calls to a Jamaican number and so we know that to be out of Jamaica and therefore it's out of the reach of the U.S," Schmid said.
The geography gets all the more confusing because there are two legitimate loan companies located next door and across the street. But amid the busy traffic on South Minnesota, one Jamaican lender the Better Business Bureau says is illegally demanding money up-front, has been able to hide in plain sight.
"Consumers want to do business locally, they want to do business with somebody they know so they may have a false sense of security that they could go down to this business and make their payments each month if they wanted to, when in reality, there's no way," Schmid said.
The lender also lists a street address in Rapid City. We checked it out on Google's Street Map, and that address, like this one in Sioux Falls, does not exist.