SC AG announces settlement with Western Union over wire fraud scams

Alan Wilson

COLUMBIA, S.C. (NEWS RELEASE)  – Attorney General Alan Wilson has announced a $586 million dollar settlement with Colorado-based The Western Union Company “Western Union”. The settlement resolves a multistate investigation which focused on complaints of consumers who used Western Union’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.

The settlement, reached between the attorneys general of all 50 states and the District of Columbia and The Western Union Company “Western Union”, alleged that fraudsters were able to use Western Union’s money transfer system to get payments from their victims, even though the company was aware of the problem and received hundreds of thousands of complaints about fraud-induced money transfers made for fraudulent lottery and prizes, family emergencies, advance-fee loans, online dating and other scams. The company also allegedly failed to promptly discipline problem Western Union agents, and failed to have effective anti-fraud policies and procedures.

“Con-artists are always coming up with ways to trick people out of their hard-earned money,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said. “A wire transfer cannot be tracked to be returned to the original sender if it is found to be a scam, which is why it is often the preferred method of transferring funds for a con-artist”.

The settlement requires Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers who have been the victims of fraud use Western Union to wire money to con artists.
That anti-fraud program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:

• 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; and
• Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures.

South Carolina consumers, who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer service between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may now apply for compensation by filing a claim at http://www.FTC.gov/WU before February 12, 2018.

Filing a claim is free, so consumers should not pay anyone to file a claim on their behalf. No one associated with the claims process will ever call to ask for consumers’ bank account or credit card number.