Western Union and MoneyGram Scams
Age old scams that involve luring victims into handing over cash through money wire services like Western Union are still prevalent on the Internet.
Western Union scams, perhaps surprisingly, are still extremely prolific on the Internet today as they have been for several years now.
The reason for this is that several breeds of online scam utilize the modus operandi of tricking unwitting victims into handing over money via services like Western Union.
Western Union’s international presence and questionable security control make it an ideal conduit for scammers to exploit. The person sending money goes to a Western Union outlet, pays the cashier (or online or through telephone) and the money is transferred to the desired location. The receiver then identifies themselves to the destination Western Union outlet and collects the money.
However when it comes to Western Union scams the scammer picks up the money at the destination outlet with fake identification so they cannot be traced.
TIP: Services like Western Union are only meant for sending money to people you know in person! Never send money this way to people you have never met – it’s too risky!
The scams vary in how they lure a victim to sending money through Western Union. We discuss some examples below.
A New Job!
Luring victims with the prospect of a job is big business for online scammers. With many countries in flailing economic situations the number of people looking for work or more money has risen, and as victims become more desperate for work they too can become more naďve or willing to take risks.
Victims are recruiting online, via unsolicited email, website forums, public listings or job websites, and enticed with flexible hours and good pay. “Interviews” and applications are conducted purely online so the victim never meets in person their new “employer” and payments are sent via checks.
The scam works by baiting the victim into cashing a check and withdrawing the money immediately to send through Western Union. However the check is fake and will eventually bounce, but by the time this happens the victim will already have sent the money through Western Union and it is too late to get it back, leaving them liable for the value of the bounced check.
For example a scammer may claim the victim was accidentally overpaid and request that the excess amount be sent straight back. Another example involves the scammer asserting that it is the victims actual job to cash checks and send on the money through Western Union.
This is check cashing fraud. The tell-tale signs of these scams are clear. Never accept jobs without meeting the people employing you. Never accept payments through check and never wire money to people you’ve never met!
Advance Fee Fraud, a.k.a. 419 or Nigerian scams, rely heavily on Western Union as their main conduit to scam victims. These scams are amongst the most popularly known and notorious scams on the Internet yet many still fall foul of them every day.
These scams work by a scammer contacting a victim and informing them that they stand to gain a substantial amount of money. Whether it be an inheritance, a lottery win or a rebate, these scams work by luring victims with the bait of money.
But there’s a catch. For some reason the victim has to pay a small fee to get their hands on the cash. Call it an advance fee, which is to be paid through Western Union. If the victim falls for the ruse then the chances are the scammer will continue to make up other fees and costs. The scam will end when the victim finally realises that there is no big payoff or refuses to pay any more fees.
Again this scam works off the assumption that victims are willing to send money through Western Union that of course you should never do! Be aware however that not all variants of this scam use Western Union.
Public Listing Scams
Those advertising or buying on sites like Gumtree or CraigsList are not immune to scams involving Western Union either. People selling items may themselves get involved in check cashing scams whereby they are sent fake checks that are made out for too much money. The scammer asks that the victim cash the check and send the surplus amount back through Western Union.
Of course when the check bounces the victim is left liable for the money they sent.
Those buying items on such public listing sites should never pay for items through Western Union.
The same applies to E-Bay sellers and buyers who are implored to follow E-Bay approved methods of transaction, which never includes Western Union.
So remember, Western Union is designed to send money to people that you personally know. Never trust people who ask you to send money this way that you have never met, whether it be someone you've met on a public listing site like Craigslist, an "employer" or someone claiming to give you money in return.
dennis hopkins says:
Recived e-mail to pick up money at western union,they sent mtcn # sender name,password,said I won the money,did not pursue,sounded to good.
|posted on 11/26/12|
Had a woman who wanted to purchase products from me, but they sent "too much money" and she wanted me to send the overage to her daughter`s doctor in KY via Western Union.
|posted on 12/07/12|
Was selling a dress and a lady named Megan Watkins was going to send me 2000 for a 300 dress. Wanted me to send the remainder to the bride that is getting married..
|posted on 01/21/13|
I got an E-mail today. With all the information that I need to pick up five thousand dollars from some person overseas. I didn`t check into because it doesn`t sound right.
|posted on 02/03/13|
My friends mom met a man over a dating web site and he fed her a line how hes over seas and sent her a $150,000 check to cash and western union it to her because thats how his job paid him to pay the other workers. Well we will find out tomorrow if it was legit but i could bet its not.
|posted on 02/26/13|
I always have been warned about wiring money to strangers via Western Union. I never knew the science behind it. Thanks so much.
|posted on 03/22/13|
If western union is sending money to cuba there is alot of questions being asked however if western union is sending money to a person like a grandson or a granddaughter in need there is no questions!!!!! the great grand patents scam. Where webstern union is ALL About the patioc act but we do not protect our senior citzens who are all about helping out ther family ther is no questions ask just send the money. western union and money gram make their $$$$ but our senior are out of what they need and desereved
|posted on 03/30/13|
60 mintues should do a under cover story about this it happens way to much. i work in a business and have stop many of a bad transaction, however i have warned my parents and they after waring have fallen pray to the grand children scam. i really feel there should be a few questions asked prior to any transactions just to protect our senior citizens. if you send money to cuba you are askedd alot of questions. but nothing to any other place . example does your grand children live where you are sending the money??? Did you verify that he /she should be there???? If not do not send@!!!!!!
|posted on 03/30/13|
I run a dog walking/pet sitting business and was contacted by someone saying that they`re away on business and need some dogs shipped to me which I will sit for two weeks. They said they will send me a check out of which I will deduct my pay, and forward the rest to the dog "shipper" via western union. I smelled a scam when I got another email from another person saying almost exactly the same thing. Also they kept evading questions about the dogs. Needless to say, I`m not going to cash the check if I do in fact receive one.
|posted on 06/06/13|