Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Consumer Alert:
Wire Transfer Fraud

Updated: December 6, 2013
Originally Posted: January 16, 2013

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions ("DFI") warns consumers to verify the identity of each and every person to whom they send money.

DFI received numerous complaints from consumers who were fraudulently induced to send money to scammers via money transmitters licensed by the DFI, such as Western Union and MoneyGram. These licensees have anti-fraud materials at each of their locations and on their websites, and consumers are encouraged to review these materials prior to sending money.

If consumers have any doubt as to whether they may be targets of fraud, they should inquire with the licensees and with DFI. Once transfers have been completed it is very difficult for authorities to locate scammers and for consumers to recover money.

Scams take many forms and scammers may contact consumers by telephone, email, or postal mail.

Common scams include:

Scammers are located both inside the United States and in various countries worldwide. Recent complaints involved scammers believed to be operating from Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, and Ukraine; and consumers should be especially cautious when sending money to these countries.

Report Fraud

If you feel you are in immediate danger contact local law enforcement. You may also contact local law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the scammer is located to report fraud.

If you are suspicious of fraudulent activity by a money transmitter, or involving the use of a money transmitter’s services, contact the Department at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP, or online at www.ftc.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the Internet, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus.

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