FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2017
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
Santa Fe, NM – Attorney General Hector Balderas today announced a settlement with Colorado-based The Western Union Company, resolving a multistate investigation which focused on complaints of consumers who used Western Union’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers. In addition to New Mexico, 49 states and the District of Columbia participated in this settlement. Western Union also settled claims by the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice related to fraud-induced transfers.
“Criminals are always thinking of new ways to victimize New Mexicans, and the schemes involving Western Union included lottery and contest scams, romance scams, and grandparents scams,” Attorney General Balderas said. “Consumers who meet someone online or receive a solicitation over the phone should be extremely cautious about wiring money, particularly if a meeting in person has never taken place.”
The settlement requires Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers who have been the victims of fraud use Western Union to wire money to scam artists.
That anti-fraud program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:
- Anti-fraud warnings on send forms that consumers use to wire money;
- Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union’s agents about fraud-induced wire
- Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints;
- Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers;
- Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers; and
- Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required
protocols concerning anti-fraud measures
Western Union has agreed to pay a total of $5 million to the states for the states’ costs and legal fees. In addition to this settlement with the states, Western Union also settled claims related to fraud-induced transfers with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice that was announced on January 19, 2017. As part of those related settlements, Western Union has agreed to pay $586M to a fund that the Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to victims of fraud induced wire transfers nationwide, including New Mexico victims.
More information about this settlement is available at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-mlars/remission or New Mexicans who believe they have been impacted can contact the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General at 1-844-255-9210.
In addition to New Mexico, the following participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
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