January 26, 2017


Western Union

Western Union agreed to liability for criminal charges, and entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.  (In other words, it will not be prosecuted if it does certain things to help correct the problems).   It also settled with the Federal Trade Commission and FINCEN.  The company will pay $586 million.  The legal papers assert that Western Union had agents in many countries that were either crooks themselves or were complicit in working with crooks.  The cases allege that Western Union knew, from complaints it had received from victims, that these agents were likely crooked but kept them open anyway.  The criminal cases also alleged that Western Union allowed agents to continue operating even where it should have known that money was being transferred for drugs, illegal gambling, and to pay to smuggle people into the U.S.

Here is the FTC’s court complaint explaining the mass marketing fraud part of the case in some detail.

Three important things to know about the Western Union Settlement

  1. All US Western Union outlets will have to now ask senders if they money they are sending results from a telemarketing call – either one a victim receives or a call they place – and will not permit sending money if it is.
  2. The $589 million from the settlement will go back to victims. The Justice Department will have a web site to sign up, but it is not active yet.  The Report will provide more information when it is available.  But those working with victims should encourage them to keep all their Western Union receipts, no matter how old.  And Western Union takes complaints from people who have been ripped off and used Western Union to send money, so complaining is an important thing to do.
  3. Western Union is now required to tell the victim, or their representative, the name and location where money was actually picked up. (It does not have to be picked up at the exact address specified by the sender).  Thus if victims or police move fast, they may be able to locate any surveillance video of the person picking up the money.

See the settlement here.

Money going to Nigeria

Many people living in the US or elsewhere send money home to family members.  Though there are several ways to do this, the most common way to send these “remittances” may be Western Union and MoneyGram.  Recent reports say that the amount of money going to Nigeria, which could also include fraud, are expected to rise from $21 billion in 2015 to $35 billion in 2016.

Warnings in US, UK and Australia about emails claiming recipients owe traffic tickets

UK warns of increase in fake charities on social media seeking money for bogus animal welfare charities

Connecticut woman loses $1600 in puppy scam  She sent money Western Union to TX and  there was no dog

The FTC receives thousands of complaints about nonexistent pets advertised on the internet.  Always do a google search of picture, and never send money Western Union of MoneyGram for a pet you see online.

BBB warns of top five scams targeting college students


New form of Ransomware is franchised – easy to use, and crooks behind it take 30%

Ransomware shuts down 700 computers at St Louis public library

English chain of public health hospitals hit by ransomware 19 times in one year, but says no ransom paid

App at Google Store downloaded ransomware virus onto phones


Sextortion Queen in Philippines talks from jail about how effective the fraud is

Romance scams

 Army CID warns of romance scams impersonating members of the US military around the world

UK reports that 40% of recent romance scam victims are men

EFCC in Nigeria charges romance scammer, denies bail, to man who ripped off New Zealand woman of $267,000.

 How to become  a Yahoo boy fraudster in Nigeria?  Start with romance scams and then branch out


Prosecutors in North Dakota recommend no bond for Willocks after he was extradited from Jamaica

Two brothers murdered in Jamaica by rival lottery fraudsters

Jamaican business community suggests blocking large volume callers to the US to stop lottery fraud

Jamaican government taking a look at its laws on lottery scams; averaging four murders per day in Jamaica over this fraud

Jamaican Justice Minister says there will be no delay in signing extradition orders sending Jamaican fraudsters to the US.