Western Union has agreed to forfeit $586 million to the government, settled consumer fraud charges by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), in which it admits to criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud and violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. As part of the scheme, fraudsters contacted victims in the U.S. and falsely posed as family members in need or promised prizes or job opportunities. The fraudsters directed the victims to send money through Western Union to help their relative or claim their prize. Various Western Union agents were complicit in these fraud schemes, often processing the fraud payments for the fraudsters in return for a cut of the fraud proceeds.
The scams, which generally targeted the elderly and other vulnerable persons, were committed by falsely promising victims they would receive large cash prizes, falsely offering various high-ticket items for sale over the Internet at deeply discounted prices, falsely promising employment opportunities as "secret shoppers," and placing distressed phone calls falsely posing as the victim's relative and claiming to be in trouble and in urgent need of money. In each case, the perpetrators required the victims to send them advance money through Western Union's money transfer system in order to receive a promised product or service. The victims never received what they were promised.
In the coming months, the DOJ will file four separate civil forfeiture complaints in various districts. The $586 million will not be property of the government until these cases conclude. The remission process will begin after completion of the forfeitures.Top
The funds that will be forfeited from Western Union will be returned to victims through a process called "remission." The remission process for assets forfeited by the DOJ is governed by 28 Code of Federal Regulations Part 9, specifically 9.8. After a victim files a petition for remission detailing the loss amount, a determination will be made by the DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section as to whether the petition will be granted. Upon conclusion of the petition review process, all petitioners with approved losses will receive payment for some or all of their loss.Top
Not yet. The process will start later in 2017. Please check back here for more information, or sign up for email updates here.Top
The remission process has not yet started. Check this website for updates and information, including the filing deadline.Top
The process for filing a petition has not started. When the petition process begins, information about filing a petition online or in the mail will be posted here. Please keep checking or sign up for email updates here.Top
You may be eligible for a remission payment if you sent a money transfer through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, and were the victim of fraud.Top
After the Department of Justice’s remission process starts later in 2017, it will still take some time—potentially a year or more—to process and verify petitions, and determine who is eligible to receive a payment. Check back here for updates on the status of the process and updated information.Top
All victims must file a petition for remission in order to be considered for a payment. When the remission process begins, many victims will receive petitions with pre-populated loss amounts that can be returned online or in the mail to the claims administrator. If you don’t receive a pre-filled petition, a blank form will be made available.
If you already reported your loss to Western Union, the company should have your information in its database. If you’re worried it’s not there, you can contact Western Union to be sure:
1-800-448-1492 or online. If you have paperwork related to your money transfers, keep it in case you need to submit it during the remission process.Top
Yes, provided you file a petition and meet the other eligibility requirements.Top
A wide variety of scams may be covered by this settlement, including:
If you sent a money transfer through Western Union and you believe you were the victim of one of these scams, you may be eligible for a return of at least some of your money.Top
Each person’s petition will have to be verified as a real loss to a scam via a Western Union money transfer. Based on that information, the DOJ will work to determine who is eligible, and to divide the money among the people with verified losses. The amount you get will depend on how much you lost, the number of people who file petitions, and the total approved losses.Top
The amount you receive will likely be a pro rata share of your loss amount offset by any non-remission recovery.
Only the amount of the transfer will be included in approved remission amounts. Collateral expenses such as Western Union fees, incidental losses, or transfers sent through other businesses are not recoverable through the remission process.
Right now, there’s nothing you need to do. If you have paperwork related to your money transfers, keep it in case you need it for the claims process.Top
Yes. If you sent multiple money transfers related to a scam, you can file claims for all of those money transfers that occurred within the eligibility period of January 1, 2004 through January 19, 2017.Top
Yes. If you were the victim of fraud and sent your money through Western Union, you should still file a claim, even if you don’t have paperwork related to your money transfer. Your claim will have to be verified, but you may still be eligible for a payment.Top
The victim must file his/her own petition. However, if you represent an estate or have power of attorney for your parent(s), you can provide those documents along with the petition. When the petition process opens, there will be more details on how to file on behalf of someone else.Top
If you are eligible, the payment amount will depend on the amount of money you sent through Western Union. Your payment will likely not be the full amount of your loss, but will depend on how much you lost, the number of people who file petitions, and the total approved losses.Top
Absolutely not. Neither the Department of Justice nor the FTC will ever ask you to pay to file a petition or to get a payment. Never pay anyone who promises you a refund in exchange for a fee. If someone asks you to pay to get your refund from Western Union, tell the FTC immediately.Top
For the latest information about remission process: