MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Universal Loan promised fast and easy transactions to customers in need of cash.
At least three consumers complained to the Better Business of the Mid-South that the online company charged them hundreds of dollars in upfront fees and never loaned them a dime.
FOX13 tried for two weeks to contact the company through emails but the correspondence always got bounced back.
We called the phone number listed on the website but it was disconnected.
FOX13 discovered Universal Loan posted on its website two glowing reviews.
Nancy Crawford of the BBB said consumers can be influenced by reviews when doing business with a company.
“People read those testimonials and reviews before they decided to do business with them,” said Crawford.
FOX13 wanted to know who are the people pictured on the company website giving those reviews, especially a woman named Linda Lejeune who said she would be “happy to recommend Universal Loan Firm.”
FOX 13 did a simple Google picture search. We discovered the image used on the site is that of Justine Damond, a woman killed in 2017 by Minneapolis Police after she called 911.
“That is just despicable in my personal opinion,” Crawford said after she learned that.
FOX13 used the search engine again. This time on the picture of the man identified Michael Marshall.
He allegedly wrote, “The experience with Universal was great.”
Google picture search identified him as Tim Whiteman who lives in Switzerland.
Whiteman’s message to FOX13 said, “I have no connection with Universal Loan and have never been in contact with them.”
“If a company is not being honest, that is first BBB standard, trust,” Crawford said.
We asked Crawford if she recommends consumers walk away if they found the testimonials to be false.
Crawford replied " I certainly would" and added that fake reviews are illegal according to the Federal Trade Commission.
FOX13 checked the website that belonged Universal Loan and it now directs you to a cryptocurrency site that promises to double your investment.