Thousands of victims of Nigerian scams could get refunds, even those who have been conned over the years in to handing over their life savings with no hope of ever recovering their money up to now.

Money Transfer firm Western Union has been forced by US regulators to put US $586m (£435m) in a fund for scam victims after admitting ‘aiding and abetting wire fraud’ in January 2017.

Anyone including those in the UK who was conned in to giving money to fraudsters via Western Union between 1 January 2004 and 19 January 2017 can apply for a share of the cash.

COMMON SCAMS

Common scams include romance fraud, where the lonely are groomed on dating websites by crooks using fake profiles and begging e-mails that appear to originate from relatives abroad claiming to have had an accident and need emergency cash.

Another scam, nicknames the ‘Nigerian Prince scam’, involves victims being sent an e-mail claiming to be from a rich foreign dignitary asking to help them transfer money out of the country in return for a reward.

Many victims of Nigerian scams were sent e-mails claiming they had won a lottery and they had to pay an administration fee to claim their prize.

WESTERN UNION

Western Union allows customers in 200 countries to send cash within minutes between 498,000 agents and once the money has been transferred and withdrawn, it cannot be traced.

In many cases the money people sent was untraceable because people did not have to show any proof of identity when collecting money or they were able to do so with fake identity documents.

More than 550,000 complaints have been made directly to Western Union for losses of US $632m (£470m) in recent years, with 80% of these cases coming from US citizens.

COMPENSATION

The number of compensation claims received is expected to exceed the pot of money available, so victims are unlikely to have their full losses recovered.

However, this is a welcome opportunity for many who may have long since written off their losses to get at least some of their money back.

Although claims must be filed by 12 February 2018 and that window has passed, it’s fair to say that any claims submitted afterwards would be considered.

I have also written about Amazon fraud, SIM phone card scams and other types of fraud in this blog.

Have you been caught out by overseas scammers? If so, what was the outcome?

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