For many years, the end of every scammer’s story — the sweatheart scam, the fake eBay product, the lottery “winnings” — went something like this: “Just wire me the money through Western Union.”
Western Union is now paying a price for being so popular with criminals — $586 million. And this time, a lot of that money will go right to consumers.
The Federal Trade Commission and various state attorneys generals announced this week a huge fund set up to compensate victims is now accepting claims.
The time span covered by the settlement is enormous — victims from back in 2004 all the way through January of this year are eligible. But time is short: Victims must make their claim by February 12, 2018.
“American consumers lost money while Western Union looked the other way,” said FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “We’re pleased to start the process that will get that money back into consumers’ rightful hands.”
Some who filed formal complaints with state or federal offices will automatically receive forms to make a claim; Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said a claims administrator would send out some 500,000 forms. Others must initiate the request on their own.
Claims forms and more information can be found at http://www.westernunionremission.com/
“Knowing that its agents were involved in fraudulent schemes – and knowing that it had a legal obligation to detect and report this criminal conduct to the authorities – Western Union failed to act, leading to massive victim losses,” said Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco. “Returning forfeited funds to these victims and other victims of crime is one of the Department’s highest priorities. I want to commend our prosecutors, the FTC, and our law enforcement agent partners for their hard work that led to vindicating the rights of these victims.”
The refund program follows a settlement with the Western Union Company, which in January 2017 agreed to pay $586 million to resolve charges brought by the FTC, the U. S. Department of Justice. Western Union also settled a case filed by all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Anti-fraud warnings on send forms that consumers use to wire money;
- Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union’s agents about fraud-induced wire transfers;
- Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints;
- Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers;
- Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers;
- Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures.