Iowans victimized by frauds that involved sending money through MoneyGram from 2004-2009 are eligible for part of $100 million national forfeiture fund
(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller urges Iowans who fell victim to any scam that involved wiring money through MoneyGram from 2004-2009 to seek compensation through a $100 million federal fund.
Last November, MoneyGram International Inc. agreed to forfeit $100 million to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Dallas-based global money services company admitted to criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud through mass marketing and consumer fraud that caused tens of thousands of victims to lose money from “advance fee” schemes and similar scams.
Through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the DOJ’s Victim Asset Recovery Program is returning the forfeited money to eligible wire fraud victims who file claims.
“Our investigators routinely hear from Iowans who tell us heartbreaking stories about losing large amounts of money they wired to very convincing con artists,” Miller said. “These criminals are generally overseas, they are very good at what they do, and they often target older people. Once victims wire the money, it’s just like handing over cash. It’s gone and, unfortunately, recovering the money is almost always out of our reach.”
The scams, which generally targeted the elderly and other vulnerable victims, included:
- Promising victims that they would receive large cash prizes;
- Offering various high-ticket items for sale over the Internet at deeply discounted prices;
- Promising employment opportunities as “secret shoppers;”
- Placing distressed phone calls posing as the victim’s relative and claiming to be in trouble and in urgent need of money;
- After establishing an online relationship with a victim, the individual—who has assumed an identity—concocts a personal crisis or asks for travel money and requests the victim to wire money.
In each case, criminals required victims to wire money through MoneyGram in order to receive a promised product or service. The victims never received what they were promised.
Those who lost money as a result of the MoneyGram schemes between January 1, 2004 and August 31, 2009 may be eligible for compensation. While the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division notified 66 victims who filed complaints about their fraud cases totaling $173,000 in losses, eligible victims who did not file complaints may also be eligible.
Eligible victims must file claims by Friday, November 15.
Beware of Wire Fraud
If you wired money and fear or know you’ve been scammed, contact the wire transfer company immediately to report it. You can report suspected fraud to MoneyGram at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947), or Western Union’s fraud hotline at 1-800-448-1492.
While it may be too late to stop or reverse the money transfer, make every effort. You should file a police report, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.FTC.gov. If the wire fraud took place over the Internet, you can file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. You can also file a complaint with the Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division:
Phone: 515-281-5926, or toll-free to 888-777-4590
Mail: Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Bldg., Des Moines, IA 50319