Tribune Print Share Text

Did you lose money to a scammer through Western Union?

File a claim to get your money back

Created date

January 3rd, 2018
Western Union storefront

As regular readers of this column know, unscrupulous scammers commonly demand payment wired through Western Union. The reason for Western Union’s popularity with scammers is that once the money is transferred, it is impossible for the victim to get it back.

Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in conjunction with the Department of Justice and a number of U.S. attorney’s offices, has reached an agreement with the international transfer service to rectify the situation. 

Western Union admits to criminal violations, including willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud. The company has agreed to forfeit $586 million to help make things right with consumers. 

“American consumers lost money while Western Union looked the other way,” says FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “We’re pleased to start the process that will get that money back into consumers’ rightful hands.”

“Knowing that its agents were involved in fraudulent schemes—and knowing that it had a legal obligation to detect and report this criminal conduct to the authorities—Western Union failed to act, leading to massive victim losses,” says Kenneth Blanco, acting assistant attorney general. “Returning forfeited funds to these victims and other victims of crime is one of the department’s highest priorities. I want to commend our prosecutors, the FTC, and our law enforcement agent partners for their hard work that led to vindicating the rights of these victims.”

If you lost money to scammers who told you to pay via Western Union’s money transfer system between January 1, 2004, and January 19, 2017, you can now file a claim to get your money back by going to

You must submit a claim by February 12, 2018.

Each claim will be verified by the Department of Justice. The amount you can get will be determined by how much you lost and how many people file claims. Even if you no longer have the original paperwork, you should still file a claim. 

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