November 27, 2017 9:33 pm

Victims of scams involving Western Union wire transfers eligible for refunds

WATCH: Anyone who fell for online or phone scams involving wiring money through Western Union can now file a claim to get a refund for the money they lost. Tony Tighe reports.

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Thousands of people in Canada and the U.S. can now apply to get money back they lost in so-called Western Union money transfer scams.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Justice Department accused Western Union of wire fraud and money laundering for not doing enough to prevent people from being victimized.

“Western Union… knew that massive fraud was afoot and had the ability to address it, but chose to look the other way,” the FTC said in a statement.

“It didn’t end there because according to the lawsuit, even in the face of obvious evidence that many of its own agents were complicit, Western Union ignored it while pocketing massive cash.”

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In a settlement reached earlier this year, Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million in refunds to people who were tricked into using the financial services company to pay scammers.

In a statement, the FTC said a wide variety of scams may be covered by this settlement, including:

  • Online or internet purchasing scams
  • Lottery or prize promotion scams
  • Emergency or grandparent scams
  • Advance-fee loan scams
  • Online dating or romance scams

  • Story continues below

The Better Business Bureau of southern Alberta says it heard from many local victims, many of whom can least afford to lose the money.

“It’s specifically targeted around people that can’t afford it,” president Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen said.

“Whether it be seniors, newcomers, students or people in more susceptible areas of society who don’t have the means or the resources.

“Unfortunately that’s what we see, and those are the real heartbreaking stories, and we’re hopeful that’s the group that are going to get a portion of their funds back.”

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Those eligible to apply are anyone who lost money in a scam involving wiring money through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. Claimants must file a claim by February 12, 2018. More information on filing a claim and eligibility can be found here.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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