Companies like Western Union and MoneyGram have been in existence for a long time because they provide a very practical service to their customers. Have you had a friend or relative that was in need of emergency money as soon as possible? Wiring them money using one the aforementioned services made that task very easy and convenient. Wiring money to strangers however is a very different scenario and can lead to fraud if you are not careful.
The most dangerous aspect of wiring money to another individual is that after you have sent the money, it is nearly impossible to get it back. This is the main reason criminals prefer to use money wiring services as they get their money and have little to worry about when it comes to law enforcement coming after them. Western Union and MoneyGram both have sections of their websites dedicated to the types of fraud that are committed using their services. You can find them here:
Criminals are becoming very sneaky in their ways of convincing their victims to wire them money. A common scam that has been very popular in the past year involves using “Google Checkout” to facilitate a transfer of money, typically for a high priced item such as a vehicle. The scammer will have a convincing argument about why they cannot be in person to exchange money for the goods being sold (usually this will involve impersonating a member of the armed forces). They will then send the victim a receipt that they have crafted to look like an official Google Checkout order receipt and ask the victim to wire money as payment. The victim, who is convinced that the receipt is real, wires the money and never hears from the scammer again. The reason Google Checkout is used is due to difficultly in contacting their customer service department to file a complaint.
Let’s face it, scammers are never going to go away as long as an opportunity exists to fool other people. With the now widespread use of the internet, more and more opportunities such as this are created every day. The best way to defend yourself from fraud is to educate yourself, be skeptical of deals that sound too good to be true, and take caution before you wire anyone your hard-earned money!