Fraudulent loans online. By Jean-Philippe Barthomet, Criminologist.
Fraudulent loans online. By Jean-Philippe Barthomet, Criminologist.

Online loans: easy money?

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of credit companies on the Internet, virtual financial establishments, without a network of agencies in the field, which offer the financing of small, sometimes medium-sized projects, or occasional cash assistance for households.

The procedure is well known. All you have to do is make an online simulation, and send a signed contract by post, along with some supporting documents. The answer cannot be reached. The money is available in our bank account a few days later.

Although it is a specific choice of consumers, it is often not based on the simplicity of the procedure, but on the fact of a first refusal in the traditional banking system.

It is known that this kind of loans are granted more easily than those of the banks. The controls are more flexible, sometimes non-existent, and the procedure much faster.

While we are going through an unprecedented health crisis, the global economy is collapsing and unemployment rates are exploding, this type of loan is becoming a first-choice cash solution for many households, often without thinking about the consequences. .

And when traditional banks refuse their customers' requests for financing, some turn to online lenders, sometimes using false employment contracts, false pay slips, and even under a false identity.

Currently, you can get all these false supporting documents on the internet, discreetly, and at very affordable prices.

Some do not even hesitate to falsify or counterfeit employment contracts, payslips and even income tax notices, because access to new technologies, editing and image processing software is very widespread nowadays.

Current forgery methods.

The online loan sector has several long-standing forgery processes, even if sometimes the solution is not there, or it is very difficult to put in place without impacting turnover.

The most common process is that of identity theft. The borrower signs the credit agreement in place of the co-borrower, normally a spouse and without his knowledge.

All you have to do is produce a photocopy of the spouse's identity document and imitate his signature. Child's play, knowing that signature checks are exceptional, even non-existent in this kind of credit companies.

This scenario often comes to light during divorce proceedings. Since the main borrower can no longer repay, the financial institution turns to the co-borrower, who is not even aware of the existence of the credit agreement.

However, there are those who disguise, who make up their own signature on this type of online credit agreement, with the aim of disavowing it later in the event of default, a process that is very difficult to prove in the context of judicial expertise of handwritten notes and signatures.

A more elaborate forgery process consists in producing counterfeits.

Normally, these are the most frequently falsified or counterfeit pay slips and tax notices.

Although this type of forgery is often easy to spot, the authentication procedure would require a major human investment for credit companies, because the software currently used for document verification is far from perfect.

With regard to the identity of the borrower, the verification is made on two elements: the identity document, normally communicated in photocopy, and the bank account statement, necessary to receive the sum borrowed.

Access to new technologies makes it possible to buy a fake national identity card or a fake passport on the dark web in a few clicks.

In addition, the current development of certain banks on the Internet allowing to have a RIB, and even a bank card under a false identity and with complete impunity.

These two elements together constitute the main risk to be avoided for online credit companies, because if the identity of the borrower is false, and the RIB too, what legal action should be taken in the event of default on repayment?

Dematerialization of banking services: advantage or disadvantage?

It would seem that the current trend of the banking branch would aim for dematerialization, applications on mobile phones, on computers, the closure of branches: we are betting on the internet.

Although most services are offered in a more efficient, simplified, faster dematerialized way, but above all less costly for the bank, some services would require human intervention, in order to guarantee not only the legality of bank transactions, but also the authenticity of documents provided by customers.

Thus, insofar as one can now open a bank account or take out a consumer loan on the internet, all under a false identity, without the risk of legal proceedings, one question remains: is it an advantage or a future problem?

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