services, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, can be useful when sending funds
to someone you know and trust – but wiring money can be incredibly risky when
dealing with a stranger.
up with all kinds of convincing stories to steal your money, but the scam only
works if you wire them money.
on the use of money transfers because it is like sending cash. They get the
money quickly, and you cannot get it back.
there is no way you can reverse a transfer or trace the money. In many cases,
the money ends up in a foreign country that will not prosecute such behavior.
instances, agents of the money transfer company have been in on the fraud.
cards such as Green Dot are also used by scammers in much the same way as
wiring money. Prepaid money cards act like debit cards. Just like a debit card,
if someone has the card information they can withdraw the money. Once the money
has been taken, it is usually gone and there is no way to trace it.
What you need
cautious when wiring money to a stranger or someone you have not met. That
insist on wire transfers for payment.
Buyers who send
an overpayment and ask you to wire the difference back.
An online love
interest who asks for money.
advertising vacation rentals or apartments online.
A new employer
who says wiring is part of your job.
Someone in dire
straits who claims to be a relative, friend, or calling for them, and wants you
to keep it a secret from the family.
Never agree to
deposit a check from someone you do not know and then wire money back.
By law, banks
must make the funds from deposited checks available within a day or two, but it
can take weeks or months before the fake check bounces.
responsible for checks deposited or cashed. If a check bounces, you will owe
the bank for any money withdrawn and bounced check fees.
prepaid money card
protections to make sure scammers do not get your money card funds.
money card number no differently than you would treat your cash or your wallet.
your money card number to someone you do not know personally.
receipt information about your money card purchases to another party.
offer that asks you to buy a money card and share the number or receipt
information by email or phone.
Do not use
prepaid money card to pay taxes or fees to claim “winnings” on a lottery or
Do not use your
money card for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.
scams can involve dramatic or convincing stories such as the following:
or email posing as a family member or friend, needing money wired to them. The
fake friend or family member will claim that they need it to get out of jail,
to pay a hospital or to leave a foreign country as fast as possible. They will
insist that you not tell anyone about the embarrassing need or to have them worry
for no good reason.
In some cases
the scammer will make the story seem real by posing as an attorney, police
officer, or someone of official status calling on the family member’s or
very good at getting information off of the internet, Facebook pages, and other
social media sites to learn about and target someone.
They are slick
at saying just enough to get you to unknowingly fill in the rest of the story
for them – making it seem as though the scammer is telling the truth.
about the family or friend that a stranger could not answer. Always check with
others who can verify the story about a relative or friend.
The letter says
you just won, but you need to deposit the enclosed check and wire back a
portion of it for “taxes” or “fees.”
how real the check looks, it is no good. When it bounces, you will be
responsible for paying back the bank.
Even if the
check were good (which it is not), participating in overseas lotteries through
the mail is a criminal offense.
your ad to sell an item and offers to use a cashier’s check, personal check or
corporate check to pay for it.
The buyer (or a
related third party) then comes up with a reason to write the check for more
than the purchase price and asks you to wire back the difference.
The fake check
will eventually bounce and you will be responsible for covering the funds plus
bank overdraft fees.
letter, email or call says you are eligible for free government grant money for
home improvements, small business development, or just to pay bills.
will insist that you need to wire them money to process the funds.
It is a scam,
there is no grant money, and whatever money you wire will never be returned.
someone and begin a long distance relationship. It may have started on a dating
site. Messages are exchanged. Pictures could be traded and it may even develop
in to a serious relationship.
The ploy is to
gain your trust from the start. Once the scammer is confident of having your
trust, they will start asking for money.
The fake friend
will tell you that they need it to help get money the government owes them,
cover the costs of a sudden illness, surgery, robbery, accident, job loss. It
may be for them, a son or daughter.
They may tell
you it is to pay for travel so you may finally meet face-to-face. You might get
documents or calls from lawyers as “proof,” always with a promise to pay you
As real as the
relationship seems, it is a scam. You will lose all the money wired, and the
person you thought you knew so well will be gone.
As a mystery
shopper, your task is to evaluate a wire transfer service for customer
You get a check
to deposit in your bank account with instructions to withdraw an amount in cash
to be wired by using the service.
counterfeit check is uncovered, you will be the one on the hook for the money.
Be wary when
buying online if the seller insists on a wire transfer.
Insisting on a
money transfer is a signal that you will not get the item – or your money back.
Ask to use a
credit card, an escrow service or another way to pay. This helps to protect
your transaction by the Fair Credit Billing Act.
In your search
for an apartment or vacation rental, you find a great prospect at a great price.
It can be yours if you wire money – for an application fee, security deposit or
the first month’s rent.
Once wired the
money is gone, and you learn there is no rental. Scammers are hijacking real
rental listings by changing the contact information and placing the altered ad
on other sites.
listings using below market rent to lure you in on a place that is not for
rent, does not exist, or was taken from a property for sale listing.
If you are the
one with the house for rent, watch out for the reverse in which a potential
renter may want to cancel and ask that you wire back the money already sent.
Others may pay
ahead or in full and then request a wiring back of an overpayment made. It is
only later that you realize their original check was a fake.
You see an ad,
website, or get a call that guarantees a loan or a credit card regardless of
your credit history.
you find out you have to pay a fee in advance. If you have to pay money for the
promise of a loan or credit card, you are dealing with a scam artist: there is
no loan or credit card.
very cautious when asked to wire money. If you have wired money to a scam
artist, call the transfer company immediately to report the fraud and ask for
the transfer to be reversed. While it is unlikely it can be reversed, it is
important to ask. You can reach MoneyGram at (800) 666-3947 or Western Union at