Scam of the day – October 5, 2016 – Latest twist on the grandparent scam

I have been reporting to you about the grandparent scam for more than four years because people continue to fall for this scam losing thousands of dollars to scammers posing as an elderly victim’s grandchild.  The scam starts with a late-night telephone call to an elderly victim from a scam artist, the only criminal, we refer to as artists, posing as their intended victim’s grandchild who has been involved in some sort of emergency and needs the grandparent to send them money right away. The criminals often manage to gather valuable information from obituaries and social media of young people, such as the particular names the grandchild may use to refer to their grandparents to make the calls seem more legitimate.

For years the preferred method that the scammers instructed their victims to use for sending funds was by wiring the money from Western Union or MoneyGram, however, employees of these companies are now being trained to inquire when suspicious amounts are being sent, particularly overseas.  In response, scammers are now telling their victims to buy iTunes Gift cards and give the scammers the numbers by phone so they can access the funds.

TIPS

Never wire money unless you are absolutely sure about to whom you are wiring the money and it is not a scam.  Once you have wired money, it is gone forever.  If a claim about a medical or legal emergency is made, contact the hospital or legal authorities in the area to confirm that the information is accurate.  Make sure that you have the cell phone number of your grandchild as well as  anyone with whom your child or grandchild is traveling so you can confirm any calls claiming that an emergency has arisen.  Call the child directly on his or her cell phone to confirm the story.  Students traveling abroad should register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.  This program can help with communications in an emergency situation.

As for being asked to send fund by way of iTunes Gift cards as scammers are increasingly doing in this scam and other scams, this is always a scam so it is easy to spot.

Scam of the day – February 21, 2016 – States settle claims against Moneygram

A common theme in many scams, including phony lottery scams and the infamous grandparent scam, is that the scammers will require the victim to wire money rather than use a credit card or a check.  Once money has been wired, it is all but impossible to trace or stop payment.  In response to this problem, state attorneys general from around the country have been investigating the role played by MoneyGram Payments Services, Inc. a wire transfer service in these scams.  Now an agreement has been reached between MoneyGram and 49 of the states’ attorneys general to settle this matter.  Pursuant to the settlement, MoneyGram agrees to maintain an anti-fraud program that includes better training of its agents to recognize scams, and enhancement of MoneyGram’s Anti-Fraud Alert System technology.   MoneyGram has also agreed to provide 9 million dollars in restitution to eligible customers who had previously filed complaints with MoneyGram in regard to money wired through them to overseas scammers between July 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009.  When fully implemented, the new anti-fraud program at MoneyGram should significantly reduce the number of scam victims.

TIPS

Whenever anyone you are dealing with requests that payment be made by way of a wire transfer, you should immediately be skeptical because of the near impossibility of getting your money back if the deal is a scam or anything goes wrong.  Using a credit card for payment is much safer.

If you believe that you are eligible for restitution through this settlement, you can click on this link for precise information about applying for a payment.

http://www.moneygramsettlement.com/

It is also important to remember that scammers will try to take advantage of the news of this settlement and may contact people by phone or email indicating that they represent the Settlement Administrator or the states’ attorneys general and that they need personal financial information from you in order to process your claim.  Neither the Settlement Administrator nor the states’ attorneys general will be contacting people regarding this settlement asking for personal information.

Scam of the day – September 8, 2013 – MoneyGram scam victims get refunds

Scammers often tell their victims to wire the money that they lure their victims to part with because unlike a check, where payment can be stopped, once funds have been sent electronically by wire, there is little chance of recovering the money when the scam is discovered.  MoneyGram is one of the world’s electronic leading money services.  Some corrupt MoneyGram employees used MoneyGram to steal money from victims using phishing scams and other fraudulent schemes.  MoneyGram International, Inc.  settled charges of criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud and failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program within the company by paying 100 million dollars to be distributed to victims of the scams perpetrated by the MoneyGram employees.

TIPS

If you were a victim of a scam through which you wired money using MoneyGram between January 1, 2004 and August 31, 2009, you may be eligible for a payment from the settlement funds.  Here is a link to the website of the manager of the settlement program that you can go to if you believe you may be eligible for some of these funds.  http://gilardi.com/moneygram/

Meanwhile, even if you have not been a victim of a scam involving wiring of funds, you should always be alert to the fact that wired funds are a scammers favorite form of payment so whenever anyone asks you, as a part of any transaction, to transfer funds electronically, you should be extra careful to make sure that it is not a scam.