file photo by Boyd Loving

November 19,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced today that New Jersey residents who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer service can now apply for compensation from a $586 million fund related to a multi-state settlement with Western Union in which New Jersey participated.

According to Porrino, New Jersey residents may be eligible to receive compensation if they were the victim of a fraud-induced money transfer using Western Union services between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017.

New Jerseyans who reported to Western Union, or to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, that they were the victim of such a scam may soon receive a claim form in the mail. The claim form will be sent from the Settlement Administrator of a related federal settlement within the next two weeks.

The form will contain instructions explaining how consumers may file their claim to receive compensation. Consumers who do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe they may have an eligible claim can visit www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124 for more information on how to file a claim.

Filing a claim is free, so consumers should not pay anyone to file a claim on their behalf.

No one associated with the claims process will call to ask for consumers’ bank account or credit card number. All completed claims forms must be mailed back to the Settlement Administrator by February 12, 2018.

“Unfortunately, con artists use all types of ruses and tall tales to convince people to wire them money – and they sometimes succeed. Some of these ‘send money’ scams may appeal to the target’s humanitarianism or love of family, while others may suggest the would-be victim needs to wire money in order to claim a big sweepstakes prize,” Porrino said.

“The position of the states in this matter was that Western Union must be more vigilant going forward,” Porrino said, “but consumers can protect themselves, too, by exercising great caution in the face of overtures asking that they send money. If a person is being told a loved one is in need or in danger, we urge that he or she proceed with deliberation and make every effort to authenticate the story independently. And if a supposed ‘bargain’ or ‘contest prize’ sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We recommend that they not take the bait.”

Announced by Attorney General Porrino in January 2017, a multi-state settlement with Western Union Company resolved an investigation by the participating states focused on fraud-induced money transfers – specifically, the wiring of money by unwitting consumers to third-party con artists using Western Union’s wire transfer service.

Under the settlement, Colorado-based Western Union was required to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent future incidents in which consumers who are the victims of fraud utilize Western Union to wire money to those defrauding them.

New Jersey was a member of the multi-state Executive Committee that spearheaded the Western Union investigation. Deputy Attorney General Cathleen O’Donnell, assigned to the Division of Law’s Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section, and Division of Consumer Affairs Chief Investigator Laurie Goodman, as well as Investigator/Team Leader Aziza Salikov, handled the Western Union matter on behalf of the State.