Deadline Approaching for Western Union Lottery Scam Refunds

Friday January 26th 2018

The deadline for anyone who was a victim of a Western Union lottery scam between January 1st 2004 and January 19th 2017 to claim back some or all of the money they lost is fast approaching. Claims must be made on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website by Monday February 12th, after which they will be considered by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

What Were the Western Union Lottery Scams?

Many innocent victims lost money to criminals who tricked them into sending money through the Western Union wire transfer service. The scammers lied about needing cash for family emergencies, or promised people loans or discounted products in return for sending an advance fee. One of the major scams was to tell people they had won a lottery prize and demand a fee to either fund the transaction or as a downpayment on taxes. The victims never received the prizes or goods they were promised.

The FTC and DOJ launched a joint investigation into how Western Union dealt with the hundreds of thousands of complaints it received from victims and found that its actions to stop scams were lacking. It was also reprimanded for failing to implement effective anti-fraud policies, and the firm admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud.

Who is Paying for the Refunds?

As part of its admission of guilt, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million to the DOJ, which will distribute the funds to victims who apply for refunds before February 12th.

Am I Eligible for a Lottery Scam Refund?

If you were a victim of Western Union fraud between the start of 2004 and January 19th 2017, you can make a claim. If the DOJ agrees that you are due a payout, the value of your refund will depend on the amount the scammers took and the number of other claims filed.

The refund will not cover any Western Union fees or other losses incurred, just the amount that was transferred to the criminals. The verification period could take up to 12 months, at which point you should hear whether your claim has been successful. You can file your claim at FTC.gov.

How to Spot a Lottery Scam

The most important point to consider is that you cannot win a prize from Powerball, Mega Millions or any other lottery without playing first. No official lottery randomly picks people’s phone numbers or email addresses as a way of distributing prizes and they most certainly do not ask for an advance fee for collecting a payout.

Most U.S. lotteries do withhold a portion of the tax on big awards, but they do not require you to send payment before you collect the prize, you are instead paid an amount minus the tax sum taken out at source.

Find out much more information about how to avoid being a victim of fraud, such as the Western Unions lottery scam, at the Scams page.

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