November 14, 2005
Jefferson City, Mo. — Under pressure from Missouri and other states, money-transfer giant Western Union Financial Services Inc. has agreed to help reduce fraud in the wire-transfer industry. Attorney General Jay Nixon today announced a 47-state settlement in which Western Union will begin educating consumers, including its own customers, that wire transfers are often sent by victims of scams.
Nixon and attorneys general from across the country confronted Western Union, insisting more be done to spot fraudulent wire transfers and alert customers to the warning signs. Victims of foreign-lottery scams, Nigerian-letter fraud and other scams are often induced to send money to criminals using wire transfers. One survey suggests 58 percent of all money wired through Western Union from the U.S. to Canada is fraud-induced. Total American consumer losses to Canada in 2002 alone are estimated at $113 million.
"While Western Union can't stop anyone from sending money to a con artist, it certainly has the ability to recognize a suspicious wire transfer and encourage its customers to reconsider," Nixon said. "Scammers are convincing too many Missourians, especially seniors, to wire them money using outlets like Western Union."
Under the settlement, Western Union agrees to:
Missouri and 46 other states plus the District of Columbia were part of the settlement, which takes effect immediately. Missourians can report wire-transfer scams by calling Attorney General Nixon's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or by completing a Consumer Complaint Form and mailing it to the Attorney General's Office.