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Don’t wire money to strangers!

Created date

September 21st, 2016
wireless money transfer

Wiring money is a great way to quickly get cash to someone you know and trust, but when a stranger demands payment via a wire transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union, it’s a sure sign you’re about to be scammed. 

Recently, 49 states and the District of Columbia joined together to look into the many consumer complaints about MoneyGram. From Portland, Oreg., to Portland, Maine, the story was the same. Consumers had used the wire transfer service to unknowingly send money to scammers. Once they realized they had been scammed, they discovered they had no recourse, even though they never received what they paid for. 

Investigators reached a settlement with MoneyGram and the company agreed to pay out $13 million to fund a nationwide consumer restitution program. (For more information about this program, visit

“As fraudsters continue to innovate and employ increasingly elaborate tactics to scam unsuspecting consumers, businesses must uphold strong anti-fraud practices to protect against those looking to make a quick buck,” said N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at a press conference announcing the settlement. 

Acceptable payment methods

In related news, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently enacted telemarketing sales rules. The new rules impact the types of payment methods telemarketers can accept and make it illegal for them to receive funds via wire transfer. 

“Con artists like payments that are tough to trace and hard for people to reverse,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC’s new telemarketing rules ban payment methods that scammers like but honest telemarketers don’t use.”

While the new law is a step in the right direction, it would be naive to expect unscrupulous scammers to abide by it, especially since they are most likely breaking other laws in their dishonest pursuit of your money. 

Should you mention the new rules, they are sure to have a ready answer and a reasonable excuse. They might say that their credit card system is down so, for the time being, they can only accept wire transfers. They might say that credit card payments take a few days to clear and the urgent nature of their special offer can only be secured by an immediate cash payment via wire transfer. They will say whatever it is they think you need to hear to get you to let go of your hard-earned money.

If you have wired money to a scam artist, call the money transfer company immediately to report the fraud and file a complaint. You can reach the complaint department of MoneyGram at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947) or Western Union at 1-800-448-1492. Ask for the money transfer to be reversed. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s important to ask. Then, file a complaint with the FTC by going to or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).