Company to implement scam-prevention policies and procedures
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced a multi-state settlement with Colorado-based The Western Union Company (Western Union), resolving a multistate investigation which focused on complaints of consumers who used Western Union's wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.
"While we have seen a spike in consumer scams utilizing pre-paid debit cards and gift cards, requiring people wire money through legitimate companies like Western Union, it is still among the top ways scam artists use when duping people, particularly among international thieves and schemes," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "These schemes include lottery and contest scams in which consumers are told they have won a large sum of money but must first wire money to pay required taxes or fees before receiving their winnings, grandparent scams in which a consumer believes his or her loved one is in immediate danger and needs money right away, and romance scams in which someone poses as a love interest and then soon begins asking consumers to send money for various reasons."
"While it is important for consumers to be mindful of the many scams and schemes that are out there, it is incumbent on companies to not allow their products and services to be used by these criminals and have the proper controls in place to identify and stop the scams," added Kilmartin.
The settlement requires Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers who have been the victims of fraud use Western Union to wire money to scam artists.
That anti-fraud program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:
o Anti-fraud warnings on forms that consumers use to wire money; o Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union's agents about fraud-induced wire transfers; o Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints; o Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers; o Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers; o Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures;
Western Union also has agreed to pay a total of $5 million to the states for the states' costs and fees. Rhode Island will receive approximately $44,000 through this multistate settlement.
In addition to this settlement with the states, Western Union also settled claims related to fraud-induced transfers with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice that was announced on January 19, 2017. As part of those related settlements, Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million to a fund that the Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to victims of fraud induced wire transfers nationwide, including Rhode Island victims.
For information on how to file a claim, please visit the Department of Justice website at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-mlars/remission.