This scam is becoming one of the most common scams used by scammers. Essentially, a Western Union scam is any scam that takes place using the Western Union method of payment.
Most commonly, there is a situation where a buyer pays for something via Western Union, and then never receives what was paid for; or the buyer pays for an item via Western Union, and then receives an item of a value far lower than what was actually paid for.
Please note this scam takes a various number of forms for a wide variety of items. Just because it does not match exactly your transaction or potential transaction, does not mean it is not the same scam. In other words, avoid any scams the resembling the following situation.
1. Buyer finds an item at a price far lower that what would actually be paid for that item.
2. Buyer shows interest in the item, thinks the deal is too good to pass up, and asks for more information on how to complete the transaction. The scammer knows the victim is already interested.
3. The seller tells the buyer to send the money via Western Union, the seller then asks for the Western Union MTCN # or the money transfer number (this is basically a number that gives the thief access the money).
4. Once the thief has the MTCN or money transfer number, he/she can pick up the money at any Western Union worldwide and disappear. The buyer has paid, but the item that was paid for will never be sent.
Tips for avoiding Western Union Scam:
Be cautious if:
- You receive an offer that sounds too good to be true, like a rock-bottom price on expensive or hard-to-find merchandise.
- You are the winning bid in an online auction and are dealing with a seller who will only accept a money transfer as payment.
- You're told you've won a lottery or prize, but have to pay taxes or fees before you can collect.
- You're selling merchandise and receive a check for much more than your asking price, but are asked to send the extra amount back through money transfer.
- You're offered a low-cost loan but must pre-pay fees or the first few loan payments using money transfer services.
- Know the person you're sending money to.
- Buy goods and services from known and trusted sources.
- Avoid paying for online auction purchases through money transfer.
- Use extra caution if buying or selling items to someone outside of your country, especially when buying popular, high-dollar,items.
- Discontinue any transaction if someone coaches you on how to respond to questions asked by Western Union. This is a sure sign of fraud.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau if you are suspicious of a business.
- Contact your State Attorney General Office of Consumer Affairs if you think someone is trying to defraud you.
The Western Union Money Transfer service is a great way to send money to people you know and trust.
- It isn't intended to send money to someone you don't know.
- Western Union doesn't provide an escrow service and isn't responsible for the quality or non-receipt of any goods or services.
- Sending money using a fictitious receiver name won't protect you when doing business with a stranger. Don't do it.
- Where available, the “Test Question” feature is designed for emergency situations where the receiver will not have proper identification. It should never be used as additional security to time or delay payment of a transaction.
- With few exceptions, Money Transfer Control Numbers (MTCNs) are not required to pick up money. If someone tells you differently, check with Western Union directly.
- If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.