MCSO: Western Union settles claims re wire transfer system scam, how to file a claim

From The Martin County Sheriff’s Office:

If you lost money to a scammer who had you pay using Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you can now file a claim to get your money back. 

You must submit a claim by February 12, 2018.

What is this case about?

For years, many people who lost money to scams sent their payment through a Western Union wire transfer. Scammers contacted people and promised prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront. They also pretended to be family members in need of cash or law enforcement officers demanding payment. The scammers told people to send money through Western Union. No one received the cash, prizes or services they were promised.

Because of joint investigations by the FTC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million and admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud. DOJ is now using that money to provide refunds to people who were tricked into using Western Union to pay scammers.

Western UnionWhat is the deadline to submit a claim?

You must submit a claim by February 12, 2018.

Who is eligible to submit a claim?

If you sent money to a scammer through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you can submit a claim.

Will I definitely get my money back?

Each person’s claim must be verified by DOJ. If your claim is verified, the amount you get will depend on how much you lost and the number of people who submit valid claims.

Only the amount you transferred via Western Union is eligible for a refund. Other expenses like Western Union fees, other losses, or transfers sent through other businesses are not eligible for a refund.

When will I get a payment?

It may take up to a year to process and verify people’s claims and determine who is eligible to get a payment. We will update this page when we have more information.

Why does the claim form ask for my Social Security number?

Before sending you a refund, DOJ must check with the Treasury Offset Program to verify that you don’t owe any money to the federal government. It needs your Social Security number to do that. If you owe money, your refund amount could be reduced by the amount you owe.

What if I do not have a Social Security number?

If you have an ITIN, do not check the box that says “Check this box if you do not have a Social Security number.” Simply enter your ITIN instead of a Social Security number.

If you do not have an ITIN or a Social Security number, check the box that says you do not have a Social Security number. When asked for a reason, you can explain that you’re not a US citizen, or whatever other explanation applies.

Can I submit a claim if I didn’t report the fraud to Western Union?

Yes, if you meet the other eligibility requirements.

What kinds of scams are covered by these refunds?
A wide variety of scams may be covered by this settlement, including:

Online or internet scams – you did not receive the items you tried to buy online
Lottery or prize promotion scams – you were told you won a lottery or sweepstakes, but never got the prize
Emergency or grandparent scams – you sent money to someone pretending to be a relative or friend in urgent need of money
Advance-fee loan scams – you paid upfront fees, but did not get the promised loans
Online dating or romance scams – you sent money to someone who created a fake profile on a dating or social networking website.
I sent money a few times to a scam. Can I submit a claim for all of those transfers?
Yes. If you sent multiple money transfers related to a scam, you can file claims for all the money transfers that occurred between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017.

I don’t have my paperwork anymore. Can I still submit a claim?

Yes. If you sent money to a scammer via Western Union, file a claim, even if you don’t have paperwork related to your money transfer. You may still be eligible for a payment.

Can I file a claim for a family member, friend, or client?

Yes, but only in these specific situations:

     you represent an estate,
     you have power of attorney for the claimant, or
     you are an attorney, and provide a signed document that says you represent the claimant and have permission to file on his or her behalf.

In the above cases, please provide supporting documents for your role, and be sure to provide the claimant’s Social Security number or ITIN with the claim.

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