Almost all wire fraud starts with contact from a stranger. Protect yourself from wire transfer fraud. Never wire money to someone you don't know. Never.
IRS Extortion Scam
Have you received a phone call from a person claiming to be from a government agency asking for money to cover "back debts" owed to the IRS? They may say that you can wire the money or send a pre-paid debit card to settle this amount owed - and if you don't, you will face jail time. Even though these calls may have a Washington, D.C. area code or misleading information on Caller ID, rest assured that any "government employee" contacting you and asking for money upfront is a scammer.
Did you receive a call from someone claiming to work with the FTC? Was the caller promising to help you get a refund from the agency? This is a SCAM. Never send money or provide bank account numbers and other sensitive information to those promising you refunds. Remember; the FTC doesn't make outgoing phone calls to contact people, they don't ask consumers to provide banking or sensitive information, they don't ask you to send money, and if refunds are part of a FTC settlement, the FTC provides the funds by check. Even if the Caller ID says the name of an organization you recognize or trust, be skeptical. Scammers will use technology, which can display legitimate numbers, which coerce you into responding.
In times of disaster, it's important to be aware of charity scams. There are many legitimate ways to provide support to help people impacted by floods, earthquakes, fires or other natural disasters. If you're eager to make a donation, give in a way that you have donated before or through a trusted organization or business where you fully understand how the funds are being collected and used. It is important to never send funds using a wire transfer service like MoneyGram to someone you do not know. Occasionally, MoneyGram will support donation programs with a well-established charity.
The U.S. government recently issued a national warning about the continued defrauding of citizens taking place through a foreign lottery or sweepstakes scam. Be aware that if you receive a notice about winning a lottery, no matter how official it looks, and are required to pay a fee to claim your winnings, this is a scam. What to be aware of:
- A federal statute prohibits mailing lottery tickets, advertisements, or payments to purchase tickets in a foreign lottery.
- Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or sweepstakes
- Beware of lotteries or sweepstakes that charge a fee prior to delivering your prize
- Be wary of demands to send additional money as a requirement to be eligible for future winnings
For more details, visit the FBI's fraud database, Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Buying a vehicle
Have you found a great vehicle online or in an advertisement with a price too good to be true? Are you being asked to send the down payment through a MoneyGram money transfer? Unfortunately, it's a SCAM. Do not send money for the vehicle to the seller or a payments representative. The vehicle purchase scammer may try to convince you to pay through MoneyGram to avoid sales tax and get a great price. They may even send you a letter or e-mail of authentication telling you that you have purchased the item, but in order to deliver it you need to wire funds first. You will not receive a car or truck. Once money is wired and received, it cannot be recovered and, unfortunately, you will be at loss for any money you transferred.
Sending money to a stranger
MoneyGram never recommends sending money to a stranger. Any monies received by a stranger cannot be recovered and unfortunately, you will not get your money refunded back to you. MoneyGram is very safe when sending to someone you know and trust.
Legitimate lottery or sweepstakes NEVER require people pay money up front. If you receive a letter, call, or e-mail saying you won something (money or a prize), but that before you can collect the prize, you need to send money to pay for taxes, customs, or any fees - it's a scam. Did it say you won even though you didn't buy a ticket or enter a sweepstakes? This is a SCAM. Don't send transfer money to the people who are stating you have "WON" something but need to send them funds to collect your winnings.
Have you found something online that interests you - a puppy, a car, an apartment for rent or any item for sale? Does the price for the item seem to be too good to be true and are you being asked to pay for the item through a MoneyGram money transfer? Unfortunately, this is a SCAM. Do not send money for the item to the seller. They may even send you a letter or e-mail of authentication telling you that you have purchased the item but need to wire funds first. Do not send the money. It is a SCAM. You will receive no merchandise. Once money is wired and received it cannot be recovered and unfortunately you will be at loss for any money transferred.
Relative in need
Did you receive a phone call from a grandchild or a family member? Or a "lawyer" or "police officer" there with your family member? Are they in despair because they have been detained in Canada for not having a fishing license or for catching a protected species of fish? Have they been in a car accident? Are they asking for money to pay fines or for car repair? Did a relative call because they need money for a family member in medical need or for medicine? This is a SCAM! Use precaution when sending money in any of these situations. Callers can request that you send money anywhere in the world. If you cannot verify with your family member (calling the number you had before this call, not the "new number" the caller gives you) that they are requesting money and aren't sure about the transaction, do not send the money. You will be at a loss for any money you transfer.
Did you receive an e-mail or letter about getting a loan? Were you asked to send money for loan fees, taxes, service fees, advance payments, or any other reason? This is a SCAM. Do not send money to a loan company to obtain a loan. If the money is wired and received it cannot be recovered. You will be at a loss for the money you have sent.
Get a check or money order in the mail with instructions to first cash it at your bank and then send some of the funds to someone else through a MoneyGram money transfer? If so, the check/money order is counterfeit and your bank will make you cover the loss. Be aware that counterfeit checks are very hard to identify. You may have been promised a percentage of the check for employment or because of an over payment. This is a SCAM. Do not send the money and do not cash the check.
Did you meet someone through a personal ad, e-mail, chat room or an instant message? Did they ask you to send them money for travel or to help them financially? Do not wire the money - this is a SCAM. Any money received by this person cannot be recovered and you will be at loss for any money sent.
Have you found something for sale in the classifieds or any type of newspaper ad? Did they ask you to pay for the item through a MoneyGram money transfer? This is a SCAM. Do not use a money transfer to purchase an item from a stranger. It is not safe to use a money transfer service when trying to purchase an item.
Elder abuse scam
A stranger begins a close relationship with you and offers to manage your finances and assets. Or, signatures on documents do not resemble your own signature. Don't get duped into parting with your money through financial abuse scams. Scammers will try to manipulate you into turning over property and/or money, and this can leave your cash, checking account or even life savings completely wiped out in one transaction. Financial abuse scams can take many forms, including telemarketing fraud, identity theft, predatory lending, and home improvement and estate planning scams. Never trust your money with anyone you don't know.