SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is reminding consumers who may have lost money in scams using Western Union money transfer services that time is running out to be eligible for a refund from a federal government settlement.
Consumers who used Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, in money transfers that turned out to be fraudulent are eligible to apply online with the court appointed claims administrator.
According to data obtained from Western Union, 3,790 Utah consumers filed complaints alleging more than $4.6 million in fraudulent wire transfers. Those Utah consumers and others may be eligible for restitution through the $586 million settlement fund with the U.S. Department of Justice by filing a claim at FTC.gov/WU.
“Time is running out on the opportunity to recover lost funds. The Division of Consumer Protection encourages Utahns to visit the (Federal Trade Commission) website to be part of this historic settlement win for consumers,” Francine A. Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, said in a statement.
In the settlement agreement, FTC investigators found that criminals used the business reputation and wire services of Western Union to conduct schemes across the country.
Some of the common scams involving wire transfers are:
• Lottery and contest scams in which consumers are told they have won a large sum of money but must first wire money to pay required taxes or fees before receiving their winnings.
• Grandparent scams in which a consumer believes his or her loved one is in immediate danger and needs money right away.Comment on this story
• And romance scams in which someone poses as a love interest and then soon begins asking consumers to send money for various reasons. Given the high profile of the Western Union settlement with the FTC, state regulators urge consumers to watch out for possible piggyback schemes.
The FTC 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.