Better Business Bureau issues alert as it investigates loan company scam

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South issued a scam alert about a loan company that claims to operate out of Memphis but there is no evidence to show that it does.

The BBB said it has gotten hundreds of calls and emails about a company called Universal Loan. Three people have come forward claiming the company scammed them out of nearly $2,000.

Houston, Texas resident Tanya Cantu’s 12-year-old son ruptured his appendix and she needed money for the hospital expense in November 2019.

“I need something quick and my son needed to have emergency surgery. I couldn’t get the funds together for a week,” Cantu told FOX13 during a telephone call.

Cantu said she went online to find a loan company and discovered one called Universal Loan with an East Memphis address on its website.

Cantu said she filled out an application for a $3,500 loan and paid $300 to the company for the processing fee. A representative from Universal Loan called her back.

“He came back and said ‘ok everything is good. We are going to wire the money into your account,’" Cantu said. "Then all of a sudden the money never came. I was like what is going on. We were literally at the hospital waiting.”

Cantu told FOX13 Universal Loan wanted an additional $750 for insurance costs. A total of $1050 in fees for a $3,500 loan. Cantu said no and threatened to call the Better Business Bureau and told us the company stopped all communication.

“We started a file on the company based on consumers inquiring about them and complaining about them,” said Nancy Crawford of The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.

The BBB tried to contact Universal Loan about the consumer complaints since it claimed to have an office in East Memphis.

When the company didn’t respond, the BBB posted an alert warning people that the company has an "F" rating. The BBB is investigating Universal Loan on allegations of fraud.

“We do not think they are a legitimate company. The website was created in September of 2019, we believe, in an effort just to steal money for people looking for loans,” said Crawford.

FOX13 went to the third floor of the office building in East Memphis where Universal Loan claims to have an office.

A manager of the suite were the company was supposed to be located told us Universal Loan doesn’t have an office on that floor or in that building.

FOX13 called the number on the website three times before someone answered. When we tried to ask Universal Loan about the complaints the phone went dead.

Tanya Cantu told FOX13 she is not surprised but hopes the Better Business alert will protect other consumers.

“I was very angry at the time. I thought my son was not going to have surgery” said Cantu.

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South has contacted its international office so it can ask the domain to remove Universal Loan.