A Pleasanton man has been indicted on charges that he used an online loan referral business to bilk people with poor credit, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.Prosecutors said a federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted David Foster Crane, 40, on 10 counts of mail fraud and 13 counts of money laundering.U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said the allegations arise from Crane’s operation of the Golden Harvest Co., an online loan referral business.The indictment alleges that Crane used Web sites such as www.badcreditloansources.biz and www.badcreditlender.us to charge $99 for his loan referral service.It charges that Crane collected about $2.5 million between March 2004 and October 2006 and used the profits to buy a car, a home, home improvements, a pool, and a condominium in Hawaii, among other luxury items. The indictment also alleges that on his Web sites Crane falsely represented that Golden Harvest’s loan referral service had been highly recommended by guests on “Oprah,” “Good Morning America,” the “Montel Williams Show,” and “The View,” and that his service had been featured in Suze Orman’s book and on “Larry King Live.” In addition, it alleges that Crane falsely represented that “professional financial agents” searched for lenders for the customers But the indictment says each customer generally received the same list of six potential lenders, so there were no “professional financial agents” and no such personalized search was conducted.The indictment also asserts that Crane’s alleged scheme also included a fraudulent refund policy.According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Crane’s Web site claimed that his service was risk-free but Crane did not honor the refund policy and in some instances Crane never opened refund requests that customers mailed to Golden Harvest. According to the indictment, in at least one e-mail, Crane falsely purported to be a lawyer retained by Golden Harvest and threatened a customer with legal action if the customer refused to withdraw a refund request.Prosecutors said the investigation began after various agencies, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Better Business Bureau, and several state Attorneys General Offices received customer complaints about Golden Harvest’s online loan referral service.Each mail fraud count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.Each money laundering count is punishable by as much as 10 years and $250,000.
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