When talking to someone online, we might notice that a lot of the time, they will consistently ask for money. This is usually because they are an online scammer, trying to come up with any excuse they can to drain your bank accounts and take the money for themselves. Because of this, many scammers usually suggest Western Union as a place where victims can go transfer their money to them. Therefore, in this article, we will go over what Western Union is, the types of Western Union scams to watch out for, how Western Union is handling these scams, and how to avoid these scams.
What is Western Union?
Western Union is a financial services and communications company based out of Denver, Colorado. They provide services such as person-to-person money transfers, money orders, business payments, and commercial services. The service in which scammers utilize to trick their victims out of money is person-to-person money transfers.
Examples of Western Union Scams
Fake Check/ Employment Scam
Victims are told to deposit their checks for a variety of reasons, such as paying for supplies for a new job, becoming a mystery shopper, an internet purchase, etc. The victim deposits the check into their account and realizes that the money they are getting back is a lot more than they expected.
The victim notifies the scammer of this, and the scammer asks that the victim send them back the extra money. The victim sends the scammer the money, then the bank notifies the victim that their check was fake and it bounced. The victim is now responsible for paying back the amount of the check.
A scammer blackmails the victim stating that they have something private of the victims that they will expose to everyone if the victim doesn’t give them money. This usually ends up being a sextortion scam, where a scammer states that they have the victims’ intimate pictures that they will share with others if they don’t get the money. The victim wire transfers the money, but the scammer keeps bugging them to send more until they go bankrupt.
A scammer sends you a phishing email posing as a business or a bank; sometimes they even pose as Western Union. They then come up with an excuse as to why they would need your personal and/or financial information. Excuses can range from needing a wire transfer and personal information to purchase a product, your account being hacked and them needing personal information and a password to verify you, or you’ve won a prize and need to enter information to claim it. With this personal and financial information, they can commit identity fraud under your name and steal your finances.
The romance scammer tricks their victims into being in a relationship with them in hopes that they can steal their victims’ money, usually pretending to be someone else. The scammer usually rushes the relationship so that the victim can build their trust up with the scammer super fast. Once the victim trusts the scammer, that’s when the scammer asks for money for emergency situations that affect their life or job. The victim continuously gives the scammer money, until they go bankrupt.
Scammers create fake social media accounts and create posts that claim their victims can turn $100 into $1,000 fast if they want to in a process called money-flipping. All victims need to do is send the scammer $100 via wire transfer and in return, the scammer will send them back $1,000. Once the scammer has this money, they block the victim and keep the money for themselves.
How to Avoid These Types of Scams
- Don’t send money to anyone online that you haven’t met in person.
- Don’t give anyone online any of your personal information for any reason.
- If someone requests you send them a small amount of money exchange for a big amount of money, then it’s a scam.
- Always check the sender of the email to see if the email message is legit.
- For example, if the store is misspelt in the email address, its a scam. If the email reads something like “email@example.com” versus “firstname.lastname@example.org” its a scam.
- Don’t click on any links from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Don’t deposit any checks from anyone you don’t know.
- Extortion emails are usually based off of fake claims and should not be trusted.
How to Report Western Union Scams
Western Union takes fraud very seriously and has a few options for you to report fraud. They are willing to get your money back if the transaction has not gone through yet. If the money has gone through to the scammer, Western Union will review your case to see if a refund would be permitted.
You can call them to report your scam at 1-800-448-1492
You can also use their online fraud claim form to file a fraud report.
You can report any phishing email referencing Western Union to email@example.com. However, to file a claim about this phishing email you still need to call them.
After you report your scam to Western Union, they work with law enforcement from all over the world to try and catch the scammers and get your money back.
What is Western Union Doing to Prevent Fraud?
- An automated fraud warning comes up when you something suspicious happens.
- There is fraud prevention information that is provided to their retail agent locations.
- There is fraud prevention information and resources on their website and on their Facebook and Twitter.
- They have appeared at fraud prevention industry events to share information and tips on how people can detect and protect themselves from scams.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think you’ve been a victim of Western Union scams.