Unlicensed payday lenders and personal loan companies are targeting people on the internet purporting to be affiliated with religious institutions.
Money Marketing’s sister title Mortgage Strategy has learned of a lender called St Paul’s Cathedral Finance which claims to be headquartered at the same address as St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The firm has posted adverts on various webs, offering payday and personal loans under the name SPCF and posted by a Rev James Benjamin, who claims the firm is a Christian organisation set up to help people financially.
On various websites it has posted: “If you are short of cash and in need of financial assistance St Paul’s Cathedral Finance is the best solution. We make applying and qualifying for a loan quick, easy and painless. Our payday loan is a fast and easy way of obtaining the emergency cash fast.”
It does not state what fees and interest rates it charges.
A spokesman for St Paul’s Cathedral says: “We have no knowledge of anyone called Reverend James Benjamin. This firm has absolutely no link to St Paul’s Cathedral whatsoever. We will be looking into this as a matter of urgency.”
Another firm, called St Martin’s Church Loan Service, claims to be a licensed lender headquartered at the Centrepoint building in London’s West End. Its adverts offer loans with rates of just 2 per cent.
The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates payday lenders, confirmed neither firm has the required consumer credit licence to lend money and no licence is present at either address.
SPCF is only contactable via email, which has been disabled. St Martin’s Church Loan Service did not respond when contacted.
London & Country associate director of communications David Hollingworth says: “It is worrying that you have got a layer beneath the licensed payday sector which could be even more dangerous.”