Bottom line is that it is ILLEGAL to ask for up-front fees in order to secure a credit-card, or a loan. If someone asks you to do this, it's a scam!
The person sending these fees never receives the loan, or credit card and becomes an advance fee loan fraud victim.
Annys Shin of the Washington Post writes:
The scam has been around for decades. Many consumers are not aware that it is illegal to charge lending fees in advance. People with poor or no credit are enticed by ads, direct mail solicitations or telemarketing calls promising fast money at favorable terms.
The Internet has made it easier for scam artists to find victims. Consumers are drawn in by legitimate-looking Web sites, complete with privacy policies, customer service numbers and online loan applications. Soon after filling out applications, the victims typically receive phone calls saying their loans were approved, but because of their credit ratings, they must first wire deposits or collateral.
Washington Post article, here.
Fake websites are nothing new - they are used in a lot of Internet criminal activities. The Artists Against 419 go after some of these websites, which may be viewed, here.
I just did a post the other day citing a FTC action against a payment processor, who was aiding some of these advance fee criminals, here.
And if you spot one of these scams, or have been a victim of one - I highly recommend you report it to the FTC, here.