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 or use gift cards rather than use a credit card or a check. Once money has been wired or gift card information provided, it is all but impossible to trace or stop payment. In response to this problem, the Federal Trade Commission investigated both Western Union and MoneyGram and settled claims brought against them in 2017 and 2009 respectively. According to the terms of both settlements, the companies agreed to make substantial changes in how they did business in order to reduce the amount of scammers using their services. While Western Union is apparently adhering to the terms of its settlement, the FTC determined that MoneyGram was not implementing the fraud prevention standards agreed upon and consequently, the FTC brought new charges against MoneyGram which were settled in 2018. Among the terms of the new settlement was a payment by MoneyGram of 125 million dollars to the FTC to be returned to people who were victimized by scammers through MoneyGram between 2013 and 2017. Now, three years later, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is sending payments to the MoneyGram scam victims.
First in regard to avoiding scams like this in the first place, whenever anyone you are dealing with requests that payment be made by way of a wire transfer or gift card, 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.
As for those of you who will be getting refunds from the FTC, the FTC has hired Gilardi & Co. LLC as the remission administrator in charge of sending payments to the MoneyGram scam victims. They will be sending prefilled claim forms to victims. The claim forms indicate the amount of money you lost according to MoneyGram’s records. If you agree with the amount, complete the rest of the form and mail it back before the deadline or submit your claim online at moneygramremission.com. The form does ask for your Social Security number which you will need to provide. If you do not agree with the amount indicated on the form as to your loss, you will need to provide documentation to prove your actual loss.
Since the legitimate form asks for your Social Security number, many people are rightfully skeptical when they get the form as to whether they are getting the real form or one sent by a scammer. The real form has a return address of United States v. MoneyGram International, Inc. P.O. Box 43549, Providence, Rhode Island 02940-3549. It also lists the phone number for Gilardi & Co., the administrator of the claims which is 844-269-2630 and carries the official seal of the Department of Justice and the United States Postal Inspection Service. No fee is required to file your claim. Any communication that asks for a payment in order to file your claim is a scam and you should ignore it.
If you believe you are a victim of the MoneyGram scam, but do not receive a prefilled claim form, you can file a claim on your own after June 1, 2021.
It is important to note that is expected to take at least a year before claims are verified and payments are made. I will keep you updated as further developments occur.
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