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Jan 30 2018

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Consumer Information – Settlement for Fraud Victims

By Cary Steven Johnson, Director: Crime Prevention, First Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Good news for people who may have been a victim of a scam and wired money to complete the scam via Western Union money transfer services; the Federal Trade Commission has reached a financial settlement with Western Union for failing to warn and alert potential victims of scams from sending money:

“..even in the face of consumer complaints, criminal prosecution, a 2005 settlement with AGs from 47 states and the District of Columbia, a 2009 FTC action against competitor MoneyGram, and warnings from the U.S. Secret Service…the FTC says it was business as usual for Western Union. In certain countries where Western Union was at a particularly high risk for use by criminals—Nigeria, for example—Western Union had rarely, if ever, terminated an agent for fraud…”

The settlement sets aside $586 million dollars as repayment for those who wired money and discovered the transfer to involve a scam. The money may have been sent to receive a promised prize/ sweepstakes/lottery, an advance fee loan, a job, discounted products, a dating or romance scam, an ‘over-payment scam, or some other internet financial scheme. Some were victimized believing a family member was in need of cash or bail money or that law enforcement officers were coming to arrest them for money owed to the government.

Here are some of the details that may allow a victim to receive compensation:

• The money had to be sent via Western Union from January 1, 2004 through January 19, 2017
• Each claim will need to be verified by the United States Department of Justice
• If you sent multiple money transfers related to a scam, you can file a claim for all of the money transfers that occurred during the eligible time period

It may take up to a year for claims to be paid and the amounts paid will be determined by how many claims are filed and the amount of those claims as filed with the Federal Trade Commission;

A file may be claimed even if the fraud was not reported to Western Union. Victims are encouraged to file a claim even if they no longer have the paperwork involving the transfer; it may be considered;

If you are the representative of an estate or have Power of Attorney for someone who lost money, you may file, using those documents to verify your request for reimbursement;

The U.S. Department of Justice will check with the Treasury Offset Program to verify that a claimant does not owe money to the federal government. If money is owed, the reimbursement will be reduced by the amount owed the federal government. For that reason, a Social Security number or ITIN number must be included;

To complete and file a claim form, go to: https://kccsecure.com/westernunionremission/Claimant/UnKnownClaimForm

Forms must be completed and sent by February 12, 2018.

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