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Western Union pays more victims

Regional 12 Jul, 2022 Follow News

Western Union is the main remittance outlet in the Caribbean

Fraud measures have improved

More victims of a mass Western Union fraud will soon start receiving compensation.

The United States Department of Justice has begun phase two of the remission compensation process to compensate fraud victims of Caribbean money transmitter Western Union. Western Union is a particularly popular remittance broker throughout the English-speaking Caribbean.

The DOJ said that, in 2017, Western Union entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to forfeit US$586 million. The DOJ said has already distributed over $366 million to over 148,000 victims and that additional forfeited funds remain available in this case. The average compensation of the first wave was $2,473, a considerable amount for the average victim.

It has since reopened the petition process to potential victims who did not previously submit a petition for remission.

The DOJ said victims of fraud who sent a money transfer through Western Union between 1 January 2004, and 19 January 2017 can file a petition for remission and receive compensation for their fraud losses. The deadline to file a petition for remission is 31 August 2022.

According to court documents, fraudsters targeted consumers, including seniors, through multiple scams and convinced their victims to send money through Western Union.

The DOJ said certain owners, operators or employees of Western Union locations were complicit in the scheme. Under the deal, Western Union admitted that it did not do enough to prevent criminals from using its services for fraudulent purposes, deceiving people into sending payments by posing as suitors or family members in need of cash or promising prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards in exchange for money up front.

Along with reimbursing victims, Western Union was ordered to take several steps to beef up consumer protection, including comprehensive anti-fraud training for its employees, improved monitoring to detect suspicious transfers, conspicuous fraud warnings on money transfer forms and more avenues for people to file fraud complaints with the company.

Damon E Wood, inspector in charge of the US Postal Inspection Service’s Philadelphia Division, said: “The US Postal Inspection Service is very pleased and honoured to have been part of this cooperative effort in providing over US$366 million in financial relief to so many victims.”

 “Scammers used Western Union’s money transfer system because they knew the company turned a blind eye,” said Director Samuel Levine of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “With our law enforcement partners, we continue to return money to those harmed by the company’s failures, and people still have until August 31 to submit claims.”

 “Western Union aided and abetted the scheme by failing to suspend or terminate complicit agents and by allowing them to continue to process fraud-induced monetary transactions,” the DOJ said, adding: “Western Union has fulfilled its obligations under the DPA, and the court granted the motion to dismiss the criminal information against Western Union.”

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