NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman informed New Yorkers on Monday, Nov. 13, they may now apply for compensation from a $586 million national fund if they were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer services.
Administered by the Department of Justice’s Victim Asset Recovery Program, this fund was created as a result of a multi-state settlement reached by Attorney General Schneiderman, 49 other states, and the District of Columbia with Western Union in January 2017.
New Yorkers may be eligible to receive compensation if they were a victim of a fraud-induced transfer using Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 19, 2017. Over 30,000 New Yorkers were affected by such transfer scams and lost approximately $35 million as a result.
“I’m pleased that this fund will allow thousands of New York fraud victims to receive the compensation they deserve,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I encourage New Yorkers to remain vigilant when receiving solicitations and report potential fraud to my office. We will continue to work with companies to improve their anti-fraud efforts and protect consumers from scam artists.”
New Yorkers who reported to Western Union or to the Attorney General’s Office that they had been the victim of a scam using Western Union may receive a claim form in the mail. The claim form will be sent from the settlement administrator in the next two weeks and will contain instructions explaining how consumers may file their claim to receive compensation.
If you do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe you may have an eligible claim, please may visit http://www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124 for more information on how to file a claim. All completed claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by Feb. 12, 2018.
The Attorney General encourages New Yorkers to reach out to his office’s consumer hotline if they have questions or concerns at 1-800-771-7755.
Consumers should be aware of common scams, including:
- Lottery and contest scams in which consumers are told they have won a large sum of money, but must first wire money to pay required taxes or fees before receiving their winnings;
- Grandparent scams in which a consumer is led to believe his or her loved one is in immediate danger and needs money right away;
- Romance scams in which someone poses as a love interest and then soon begins asking consumers to send money for various reasons, such as medical emergencies, car accidents, muggings, or emergency travel;
- Tax scams, including when the caller poses as an official from a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service, often times using an official looking phone number. The scammer will claim that a past due tax balance is owed, and tell the victim that unless the debt is paid immediately, a team of officers will come to the victim’s home that day to arrest the victim. New Yorkers should remember the IRS and legitimate government agencies never demand payment by phone;
- Telemarketing scams involving solicitations such as advance fee loans, work-at-home opportunities, magazine sales, credit card offers, business opportunities or travel deals.
Consumers who receive these types of solicitations from strangers should toss those letters in the trash, delete the e-mail, or hang up the phone. Consumers who meet someone online should also be cautious about wiring money, particularly if a meeting in person has never taken place.
If you think you have been the victim of a scam, report it to our Consumer Frauds Bureau here.