A Zopa lookalike by the name of “Zopa Loans Reviews” appears to have been shut down by the FCA.
The UK regulator posted an update on Tuesday 12th May, warning people that the website Zopa Loans Reviews had been carrying out consumer credit activities without having secured the permission of the FCA. The FCA website used the phrase “knowingly run scams” – suggesting that Zopa Loans Reviews represented a deliberate attempt to defraud consumers, leveraging off the trusted reputation of the original Zopa.
The regulator was at pains to stress that no affiliation exists between Zopa and the fraudulent Zopa Loans Reviews. Finextra’s coverage of this matter suggested that the latter site had been advertising itself as a licensed entity. The FCA again emphasised that this is not the case.
A quick visit to www.zopaloansreviews.com, which is now inactive, would suggest that the site has now been closed down thanks to the intervention of the regulator. A Zopa representative tells us that, prior to closure, Zopa Loans Review appeared to be operated from the US – offering dollar loans to UK consumers. It was not a direct clone of the Zopa site, but had effectively mirrored some of the branding and the language around treating consumers fairly.
Mat Gazeley, Head of PR at Zopa, commented:
“We’re pleased to see that the FCA has issued a warning and has taken action against the firm in question. Consumers looking for loans from Zopa should visit Zopa.com or go through the well-known UK comparison sites.”
As the UK P2P sector continues to flourish, a corresponding number of counterfeit operations are likely to spring up. Fortunately, the FCA stands as a useful and powerful deterrent, as evidenced by the shell-like state of the Zopa Loans Reviews domain name.
Other international markets are less fortunate. There’s an enormous number of duplicitous outfits moving in the Chinese peer-to-peer lending arena. A Chinese credit rating agency by the name of Dagong Credit Data published a blacklist in January 2015 that featured 266 lending off-limits companies. Only a few weeks ago we received word that a dedicated set of P2P regulations, requiring every platform to acquire a license to operate, should arrive within the next month. The advent of a more stringent regulatory attitude should allow the Chinese market to operate as effectively as the UK space appears to in terms of catching and curtailing the actions of would-be fraudsters.