Western Union $586 million claims deadline extended to May 31

Ripped off by scammers who accepted payment by way of Western Union? The deadline has been extended to May 31 to file a claim in a $586 million settlement, federal officials said this week.

Western Union agreed to settle charges it failed to protect consumers adequately from scams and discipline problem agents.

The settlement goes way back. It covers scam payments between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. The deadline to file claims was earlier announced for later this month, but is now May 31, 2018.

What kind of payments? This is about money transfers related to fake lottery prizes, phony family emergencies, fraudulent online romance and other scams. Such schemes generated more than 550,000 complaints.

Western Union said in a statement last year it was “committed to enhancing our compliance programs to prevent illicit activity on our network.”

Where do you file your claim? The Federal Trade Commission says start here:

FTC.gov/WU

You may be asked to provide documentation and your Social Security number, according to an FTC statement. It may take up to a year to verify and process the claims, officials said.

Reminder: Do not pay any money to file a claim, the FTC said. That means you’re in the wrong place and risking exposure to another scam.

 

 

 

Western Union scam refunds: Window on $586 million closes Feb. 12

If you ever wired money at Western Union for something that turned to out to be a scam, your chance at a refund expires Feb. 12.

Western Union has agreed to provide $586 million to settle charges it failed to protect consumers adequately and discipline problem agents, federal officials  reminded consumers Tuesday 

We’re talking scams that go back up to 14 years, generating more than 550,000 complaints about money transfers related to fees to collect fake lottery prizes, phony family emergencies, fraudulent online romance and more. Western Union knew from reports inside and outside the company that such frauds were occurring, and the reports in some cases implicated its own agents, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Western Union said in a statement last year, “We share the government’s goal of protecting consumers and the integrity of our global money transfer network, and we worked hard to resolve these matters with the government.” The company added: “We are committed to enhancing our compliance programs to prevent illicit activity on our network and protect customers who transfer money to friends, family and businesses.”

Consumers have until Feb. 12 to file claims for refunds for fraudulent payments made via Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 17, 2017.

The FTC felt obligated to add this warning: Don’t pay anything to file a claim for your refund. That’s a sure sign you are not dealing with the right people.  In other words, don’t get scammed in your attempt to get a scam refund.

“The U.S. Department of Justice is managing the claims process through the company they hired, Gilardi & Co.,” a Federal Trade Commission statement said Tuesday. “Your claim will go to Gilardi, but we suggest you start at FTC.gov/WU, which will link you to the claims website.”

 

 

FTC settles with accused Florida collector on India scam calls

Federal officials announced a settlement Wednesday with a Florida company accused of using “runners” to pick up money at Western Union or MoneyGram locations throughout the state in connection with scam calls from India.

Callers pretended to be from a host of agencies including the IRS collecting debts, or officials collecting a fee to pick up a “free”government grant, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

FTC HQPHLG Enterprises in Palm Harbor, Fla. and managing member Joel S. Treuhaft  helped collect more than $1.5 million from about 3,000 people in 2015 and 2016, according to the FTC.

PHLG and Treuhaft admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, but are permanently enjoined from receiving or facilitating payment for goods or services offered or sold through telemarketing, among other restrictions. Attempts to reach defendants’ attorneys were not immediately successful.

“Some runners lied to store employees to retrieve a consumer’s money, including saying they were the consumer’s friends or relatives,” an FTC statement said. “The runners went to various stores every day, for eight to 10 hours per day, to collect consumers’ money. The defendants and their runners kept a portion of the money and delivered the rest to the India-based scammers through a complex series of transactions designed to avoid detection by law enforcement.”

The settlement “imposes a $1.5 million judgment that will be suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay,” according to the FTC. “The full judgment will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.”