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Deadline for Scam Refunds Extended

Are you a victim of a scam, such as a grandparent or romance scam, where the fraudster tricked you into making a payment via a Western Union wire transfer? If the fraud took place between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your losses pursuant to an agreement between Western Union and the government. A recently extended deadline allows victims who have not previously submitted a petition for remission to do so by August 31, 2022.

Back in 2017, following a joint investigation conducted by the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud and agreed to forfeit almost $586 million. “Scammers used Western Union’s money transfer system because they knew [Western Union] turned a blind eye [to them],” said a spokesperson for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs.

The DOJ is using these funds to provide refunds to individuals who were scammed into using Western Union to pay scammers. While over $366 million has already been disbursed to approximately 150,ooo victims, additional funds are still available, which is why the DOJ has extended the filing deadline.

According to a DOJ press release, consumers targeted by relevant scams included many senior citizens. Frauds directed towards seniors included the “grandparent scam,” where the fraudster poses as a victim’s relative (or someone in a position to help the relative) in order to avoid harm; romance scams, where the fraudster poses as an online love interest and requests funds for a visit or another purpose; and lottery or sweepstakes scams, where the fraudster tells the victim that they’ve won a cash prize but must first pay fees, like taxes, to receive the prize.

Other scams for which victims might be eligible for refunds include scams where victims did not receive items they bought online using Western Union and advance-fee loan scams where victims paid fees upfront via Western Union but did not end up getting the promised loans.

Fraud victims who sent a money transfer through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may file a petition for remission online or may obtain a petition at the remission website, www.WesternUnionRemissionPhase2.com. Petitions must be postmarked or submitted online on or before August 31, 2022.

 Information regarding the remission process, including eligibility and frequently asked questions, is available at the remission website or by calling 1-855-786-1058.

The information contained in this column is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

 By Gille Ann Rabbin, Esq., CIPP/US, CIPP/E

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