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AG Stein Announces Settlement to Crack Down on Fraud

Release date:

North Carolina joins 48 States and D.C. in Settlement with Western Union

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that Western Union will take new steps to protect their customers from fraud and that North Carolina will receive $226,000 of a $5 million settlement with Western Union. North Carolina joined 48 states and the District of Columbia to reach this settlement, which is the culmination of an investigation into schemes to defraud people who used Western Union’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties.

“Keeping North Carolinians safe – including from scam artists out to commit fraud – is my number one priority as Attorney General,” said AG Stein. “There are too many creative and believable scams that trick people every day. I’m proud to join my colleagues across the nation to require Western Union to implement anti-fraud programs to better protect people.”

Consumers should be aware of some of the scams that led to this settlement:

  • Lottery scams occur when a consumer receives a notice that he or she has won a large sum of money, but must first pay taxes or other fees to get it. Contest winnings should never require money up front.
  • Grandparent scams happen when a criminal calls someone pretending to be his or her grandchild and says he or she urgently needs money. These scammers get family names from social media, obituaries in the newspaper and other sources, so they may have a lot of information about the people they’re calling and impersonating. The best thing to do when this occurs is hang up the phone and call the grandchild or loved one directly to confirm.
  • Sweetheart scams are those when someone begins an online romantic relationship in which the person being scammed is tricked into paying money for medical emergencies, car accidents, emergency travel, etc. If you meet someone online, always be very cautious about wiring money.

In addition to paying $5 million for the states’ costs and fees, the agreement requires Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program to help detect and prevent incidents where people who have been the victims of fraud use Western Union to wire money to scam artists. The program includes:

  • Anti-fraud warnings on send forms that people use to wire money
  • Mandatory and appropriate training and education for all Western Union agents about fraud
  • Heightened anti-fraud procedures when needed, such as when fraud complaints increase
  • Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers
  • Monitoring of Western Union agent activities related to fraud prevention
  • Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who do not follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures.

Western Union also settled claims with the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice this month. As part of those settlements, Western Union will pay $586 million to a fund that the U.S. Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to fraud victims, including those in North Carolina.

Other states involved in this bi-partisan settlement include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota,  Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming as well as the District of Columbia.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484


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