LITTLE ROCK â€“ Almost every consumer has been the target of a wire scam, whether itâ€™s in an email about an international lottery prize or a phone call from an imposter posing as a distressed loved one.
Con artists employ countless tactics in their attempts to convince consumers to send money through wire services, since the scammers are hard to locate and it is difficult for victims to recoup their losses after money is wired.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to remind consumers about the most common types of wire scams and how to avoid them. In addition, McDaniel is informing Arkansas consumers about a settlement between the federal government and a wire-transfer company that could result in restitution for affected scam victims.
â€œWe always advise consumers never to wire money to someone they donâ€™t know or trust, even if that person makes a convincing argument to do so,â€ McDaniel said. â€œCon artists know no bounds when it comes to deceiving hard-working Arkansans out of their money. Consumers should ask questions and investigate the legitimacy of any claim, and most importantly, remember that wiring money is just like sending cash.â€
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice and MoneyGram International, Inc., entered into an agreement requiring MoneyGram to forfeit $100 million for restitution to consumers who were victims of wire-fraud schemes from 2004 to 2009. The federal government accused MoneyGram of being involved in mass marketing and consumer fraud related to the scams. Most of those scams targeted the elderly or other vulnerable people, the federal government said.
Con artists would falsely promise large cash prizes, falsely offer high-ticket items for sale on the Internet at deeply discounted prices, advertise fake â€œsecret shopperâ€ employment opportunities and place phone calls posing as a relative claiming to be in trouble and in urgent need of money. The scam artists required consumers to send money through MoneyGramâ€™s system, but the consumers never received the product or service they were offered, according to the federal government.
Consumers who lost money from a MoneyGram scheme between 2004 and 2009 may be eligible for compensation. Those consumers are encouraged to call (877) 282-2610 or visit gilardi.com/moneygram/ for claims information.
While scammers continue to ask their victims to wire money, some are also now requesting that prepaid debit cards be purchased. Once criminals have the number off the back of such a card, they can use that number just like cash. McDaniel recommended that consumers never give the number off a prepaid debit card, such as a MoneyPak card, to an unknown person, and to be wary of using a prepaid debit card for anything that requires payment before a product or service is received.
As for wiring money, consumers should avoid anyone who pressures them to immediately transfer money via wire to an unknown account or entity. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible for money wired to a foreign country to ever be returned.
For more information about advance-fee schemes or to learn more about MoneyGram restitution, call the Attorney Generalâ€™s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit the Consumer Protection Divisionâ€™s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.