Scam victims may be eligible for a refund: ACCC

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Western Union has agreed to pay a penalty of US$586 million to the United States’ Department of Justice (DOJ) after admitting to aiding and abetting wire fraud.

The DOJ is using this penalty to provide refunds to eligible people worldwide who were tricked into paying scammers via Western Union.

All wire transfers made through Western Union within and outside of the US between 1 January 2004 and 19 January 2017 may be eligible for a refund.

Australian consumers can use an online form or apply by post to have the money they lost refunded by the DOJ.

As this is a US-based action, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is unable to make claims on consumers’ behalf or assist them with their claims.

“Scamwatch hears heartbreaking stories on a daily basis from Australians who have lost money to scammers by wiring funds through Western Union. Over $5 million is reported lost each year to these scams but this is just the tip of the iceberg as many victims don’t contact us,” ACCC Acting Chair Michael Schaper said.

 “The sad reality is that in most cases, once you have fallen victim to a scammer, the money is gone – and there’s nothing you can do to get it back.

“For people who have wired money via Western Union from 2004 until 2017, this may be your chance to recover some of it. There are no guarantees but we strongly encourage you to try by 12 February.”

Scammers often promise prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products and other financial rewards in exchange for sending money upfront through untraceable wire transfers.

They also pretend to be family members in urgent need of cash, or law enforcement officers demanding payment for fines, or countless other excuses, but no one ever receives the cash, prizes or services they were promised by scammers.

Have you ever been scammed? Did you use a Western Union wire transfer? Will you be seeking a refund now?

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Written by Ben

162 Comments

Total Comments: 162
  1. 0
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    ACCC should stop Australia Post from processing payments for Western Union. I have overheard asking custmoners are they sure it’s not a scam. Some comapnies who use it are not necessarily actually scammers but their promptness in actually delivering goods paid for is long winded to say the least.

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      I would suggest that making on-line purchases of good and services via Western Union in Australia would be very unlikely Blossom. That would be done via Pay Pal or direct payments direct to the supplier.

      I would think that most of the ‘lost’ money in Australia would be more likely for dating scams, the Nigerian money scams, fake lotteries, fake competitions you win without actually entering etc

      And why stop the Post Office from facilitating Western Union transfers? At least the conversation you overheard was the employee just asking the question of the customer. I’d say that was a good move! There are many other places you can do this including small general grocery shops. Western Union is a legitimate business used by literally millions of people everyday. They are as much a victim of these scams as the individual who falls for them.

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    • 0
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    • 0
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    • 0
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    • 0
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      Well, I can’t say all are legitimate. I was scammed last month by a fraudster claiming to be a woman on a dating site. I lost $67,050 in total as I was sending money to take care of the fraudster’s parents. He claimed they were involved in a ghastly road accident. leaving them in that critical condition would be very inhumane of me. I kept sending money to the fraudster thinking I was serving humanity. I was so disappointed to discover it was all scam. I later got a recovery expert who helped me trace and hijack my money from this fraudster. It took him four days approximately but It was worth the wait. I’m glad to say I got my money back in one piece. You can contact his mail
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  2. 0
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    I don’t understand why Western Union should be fined and have to repay scams. Are people so gullible? Have they lost all common sense. There is enough publicity and has been for years about these sort of scams and yet people are silly enough to fall for it.
    If one is stupid enough to fall for this stuff too bad. I can understand maybe being caught out once but the same people go on paying till there is nothing left and havent got sense to realise they are being scammed.

    • 0
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  3. 0
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    Yes. A fool & his money are easily parted.

  4. 0
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    Caveat emptor. But it’s good to know that refunds are possible.

  5. 0
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  6. 0
    0

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  7. 0
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    I stated communicating with a man claiming to come from the United states online around 6 months ago and everything was going well till he started demanding for money from me . I was forced to send over 28000euro to him, i sent this in batches and when i was almost going broke i told him i am not sending to hime again . He became abusive for some days and he deleted my contacts, i was so devastated and i was really disappointed that i could be scammed. I contacted a recovery firm i saw online with the name myprincipalchargeback.com what really attracted me to them was the policy of no upfront payment and just 10% commission of the total money recovered after the recovery process. i am happy that i was able to recover more than 21000euro back from that bloody scammer. I will recommend the recovery firm to anyone with similar issues.

  8. 0
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  9. 0
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