Chicago —(ENEWSPF)—November 16, 2017
By: Rosemary Piser
Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced yesterday that people who sent money to scammers who requested payment through Western Union’s money transfer system may now file claims to get their money back.
Anyone who sent money to a scammer using Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may be eligible to receive a refund. People must file claims by February 12, 2018. Refunds will be handled through a fund administered by the Department of Justice’s Victim Asset Recovery Program. Illinois residents may be eligible to receive as much as $20 million in refunds.
The $586 million fund is part of a settlement Madigan and the Attorneys General of 49 other states and the District of Columbia reached with Western Union in January 2017. The Attorneys General investigated Western Union after receiving complaints from consumers who used the company to wire money to scam artists.
The Attorneys General alleged that Western Union was aware of how scammers used its payment system to steal from people and failed to take sufficient steps to protect people from these scams. Examples of the scams included phony lottery or prize winnings, fake family emergency scams, IRS scams and romance scams. In all of these schemes, the scammer tried to catch people off guard by creating a fake, urgent situation that they claimed required people to immediately wire money to the scammers.
As a result of the investigation, Western Union agreed to do more to protect its customers from third-party scammers and to discipline agents who fail to follow anti-fraud protocols.
Illinois residents who have already reported being a victim to Madigan’s office, Western Union, the FTC or another government agency may receive a claim form in the mail. The forms were mailed Monday, November 13 and will detail the steps consumers should take to file a claim to receive compensation.
People who do not receive a form in the mail but believe they may be eligible to receive compensation through the fund, can obtain more information or file an online claim by visiting the Western Union Remission website or by calling 1-844-319-2124. It could take up to a year before eligible consumers receive a refund. Depending on the number of consumers who file claims, the refunds may be a percentage of the amount consumers lost.
Illinois residents who have questions should contact the Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago), 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield), or 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale).