Western Union might owe *you* money, but you have to act fast (this time, it’s not a scam)

Click to visit the FTC site and learn how to make your claim

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.

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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.

“Western Union knew scammers were stealing from people and did not do enough to protect people,” Madigan said.  “I encourage Illinois residents who think they are eligible to file a claim before Feb. 12.”
Affected consumers can also go to FTC.gov/WU to file claims, learn more, or get updates on the claims process.
The attorneys general alleged that Western Union was aware of how scammers used its payment system to steal from people and failed to take sufficient steps to protect people from these scams. Examples of the scams include phony lottery or prize winnings, phony family emergency scams, IRS scams and romance scams.
“The common thread in all of the schemes is that the scammer tried to catch people off guard by creating a phony urgent situation that they claimed required people to immediately wire money to the scammers,” Madigan’s office said.
Western Union has also agreed to a series of changes that will help protect consumers in the future.  These include:
  • 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.
“It’s not often that scam victims have a chance to recover some of their money, so we want people to know about this opportunity,” DeWine said. “If you think you’re eligible, file a claim.”

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About Bob Sullivan 1144 Articles

BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

1 Comment

  1. Funny in a way. I was a Navy dependent in Japan in the 60s as a pre-teen and never got ripped off in Japan…even when I went back during the Vietnam war (ComSeventhFlt has been home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan since just after WWII); I did engage in a fairly long correspondence with a (“lonely”=broke…) ‘Nigerian Prince with funds that must…’ and broke it off out of boredom. Now to the point; I nearly got tagged recently by a phone call (Chase ATM…) and an e-mail that somehow paused me–I did a minute’s research and found out that by doing so I’d just passed the test that most others had failed. On the other hand, Dell’s cloud recovery site was something I used during the time it was infected, and I ended up buying a new copy of Win 10 [BUY A DISK W/O SERIAL NUMBER FROM AMAZON; they actually work, and a lot more smoothly than any net connection I’ve ever had).

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