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Fend Off Peer-To-Peer Lending Fraud & Incompetence – A Checklist

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This page was last updated on 4 October, 2019

It's a hot time in IFISA season with several peer-to-peer lending companies offering highly attractive cashback of up to £4,000 or 5% (even up to 200% if you're just lending small amounts!) Read more.

In China, the number of websites offering lending platforms reached more than 2,000. For a long time, after that, 80 of them were being closed down every month due to peer-to-peer lending fraud or incompetence.

The UK is far from China in more ways than one, but wherever there is money, fraud and incompetence will be taking place against some people, somewhere – be it in the stock market, property or something else.

For lenders in P2P, here's a simple list of very simple, basic checks of fraud, dishonesty and incompetence, which will massively reduce your risks.

Even beginners can do the vast majority of these checks before lending through a P2P lending or IFISA provider to gauge whether there are major discrepancies or issues.

Below is a simple checklist you can use to look for signs of fraud, negligence, misconduct, dishonesty or other financial crimes, or even just plain ignorance, before you choose to lend through a peer-to-peer lending website or IFISA provider.

Not all the individual signs on this list automatically mean that there is fraud, negligence or stupidity going on, but the more of these that you see, the more sceptical you should be about lending your money:

Peer-to-peer lending fraud and incompetence checklist

  • No opportunity to contact by telephone, the telephone number does not function, or the line quality is poor.
  • No meaningful response when you attempt to contact them or overuse of highly technical and complicated answers.
  • The platform or a “broker” cold calls you to get your interest.
  • No entry on the Financial Conduct Authority's online register (read How To Check The Financial Services Register For Monsters) or an entry on its unauthorised firms register.
  • Not showing on 4thWay. (4thWay’s experts often don’t get a chance to assess and review some sites and that will clearly include many of the dodgiest, since they, unsurprisingly, don’t even answer our requests for basic information.)
  • Worrying question marks in 4thWay’s assessment of the P2P lending site. (We won’t spot all serious peer-to-peer lending fraud, dishonesty or negligence, but when we are in the position to assess a P2P lending site I expect we’ll be able to warn strongly against most of those situations.)
  • Poor quality website.
  • Poor English on the website and marketing materials, or an overseas location.
  • No secure website. (No “https”, with an “s” on the end, in the website address bar.)
  • Claims of being expert while being highly intransparent about the key people making decisions and the processes they use.
  • Very few details about their record so far, including incomplete statistics, especially compared to other P2P lending sites.
  • Very ambiguous information and wording, conflicting information and statistics that are rarely updated.
  • No external sources show in any detail the experience the people in charge have had in the past (e.g. at banks), including the institutions they worked for and what specific posts they held.
  • They claim to being linked to or backed by major companies or high-profile figures, but there is no independent source (such as a news publications) backing that up.
  • Highly aggressive marketing language, especially saying there is low or no risk or that you have “guarantees”, while also talking up glitteringly high interest rates.
  • Be very sceptical of invitations to join exclusive clubs or investments.
  • Being rushed to make a decision, e.g. by highly attractive introductory deals that will expire imminently.
  • High pressure sales tactics.
  • They show frustration when you ask questions or want to get a second opinion.
  • The P2P lending site uses conspiracy theories to sell to you. (“The bankers and the wealthy are trying to keep this investment from you.”)

Learn more sophisticated checks as you go

Once you’ve got used to those, there’s always more room to become more sophisticated, such as learning how to use Companies House and read company accounts in order to gather more information about the directors, the business and its finances.

For more on peer-to-peer lending fraud and similar subjects:

How To Check The Financial Services Register For Monsters.

What Have Failed P2P Lending Sites Got In Common?

The Five Key Risks In Peer-To-Peer Lending.

Try also the FCA's scam guidance and the Money Advice Service's scam guidance.

Independent opinion: the opinions expressed are those of the author and not held by 4thWay. 4thWay is not regulated by the ESMA or the FCA, and does not provide personalised advice. The material is for general information and education purposes only and not intended to incite you to lend.

All the specialists and researchers who conduct research and write articles for 4thWay are subject to 4thWay's Editorial Code of Practice. For more, please see 4thWay's terms and conditions.

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There's the savings way, the property way, the stock-market way, and now there's the peer-to-peer lending way. The 4thWay® to save and invest.
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We help people save and make more money, more safely when they cut out the banks and lend directly to other people and to businesses.

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Why are Wellesley’s interest rates different?

Wellesley’s P2P lending rates appear higher on its own website than on 4thWay®.

This is because we calculate Wellesley’s interest rates the same way most other P2P lending websites do. We do this so that you can compare the rates more easily and so that they show a more accurate picture of what you’ll earn.

Important information before you visit Wellesley & Co.

Wellesley & Co. is primarily a P2P lending website.

But, when you visit the Wellesley website, you’ll see that it also offers “bonds”. Unlike its P2P lending service, its bonds don’t allow you to lend directly to 100+ borrowers.

Instead, you lend to Wellesley and it lends to other borrowers.

We have not risk-rated either of those bonds, but we expect that their structure makes them more risky, particularly because you’re lending to just one borrower.

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Why are Wellesley’s interest rates different?

Wellesley’s P2P lending rates appear higher on its own website than on 4thWay®.

This is because we calculate Wellesley’s interest rates the same way most other P2P lending websites do. We do this so that you can compare the rates more easily and so that they show a more accurate picture of what you’ll earn.

Important information before you visit Wellesley & Co.

Wellesley & Co. is primarily a P2P lending website.

But, when you visit the Wellesley website, you’ll see that it also offers two “bonds”, one of which is available as an ISA.

Unlike its P2P lending service, neither of these bonds allows you to lend directly to 100+ borrowers.

Instead, you lend to Wellesley and it lends to other borrowers.

We have not risk-rated either of those bonds, but we expect that their structure makes them more risky, particularly because you’re lending to just one borrower.

Got it

×

Why are Wellesley’s interest rates different?

Wellesley’s P2P lending rates appear higher on its own website than on 4thWay®.

This is because we calculate Wellesley’s interest rates the same way most other P2P lending websites do. We do this so that you can compare the rates more easily and so that they show a more accurate picture of what you’ll earn.

Important information before you visit Wellesley & Co.

Wellesley & Co. is primarily a P2P lending website.

But, when you visit the Wellesley website, you’ll see that it also offers two “bonds”, one of which is available as an ISA.

Unlike its P2P lending service, neither of these bonds allows you to lend directly to 100+ borrowers.

Instead, you lend to Wellesley and it lends to other borrowers.

We have not risk-rated either of those bonds, but we expect that their structure makes them more risky, particularly because you’re lending to just one borrower.

Got it

×

Why are Orchard’s interest rates different?

Orchard’s lending rates appear higher on its own website than on 4thWay®.

This is because we calculate Orchard’s interest rates the same way most other P2P lending websites do. We do this so that you can compare the rates more easily and so that they show a more accurate picture of what you’ll earn.

Got it

×

Why are Wellesley’s interest rates different?

Wellesley’s P2P lending rates appear higher on its own website than on 4thWay®.

This is because we calculate Wellesley’s interest rates the same way most other P2P lending websites do. We do this so that you can compare the rates more easily and so that they show a more accurate picture of what you’ll earn.

Important information before you visit Wellesley & Co.

Wellesley & Co. is primarily a P2P lending website.

But, when you visit the Wellesley website, you’ll see that it also offers “bonds”. Unlike its P2P lending service, its bonds don’t allow you to lend directly to 100+ borrowers.

Instead, you lend to Wellesley and it lends to other borrowers.

We have not risk-rated either of those bonds, but we expect that their structure makes them more risky, particularly because you’re lending to just one borrower.

Got it

×
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