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 Western Union's Responsibility

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username14
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:40 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I was reading through a bait when this question hit me. Why isn't anyone holding the money transfer companies responsible? I'm sure it's been asked before but I'm just curious if anyone has any fresh ideas. Embarassed

Why are they making it so easy for scamming? It obviously has to be as it always seems to be their first choice. They could easily start black-listing those that get complaints against them. I'm sure that WU is the first place people go (maybe even before the cops, to solve it incident themselves) when they figure out it is a scam. But then again, the people working in these local branches are probably in on it too.

If nothing can be done to secure it, why are they allowed to keep branches open in trouble areas (like Lagos)? Why isn't the mother ship (corporate) closing down or otherwise 'dealing with' branches with many complaints?

I did look into WU and their stance is about customer awareness (aka 'buyer beware') but not much more than that. They are required to keep records on who picks up the money, but that is only available by subpena, so if they are out of the country (short of some international incident) you are SOL. So the only reason I see for them keeping business going as it is:

They are making too much money off the fees for the fraud transfers to care.

I mean, I understand that they are a company and companies are in business to make money, but that same argument can be applied to the Mob so I don't see it as an excuse. If Person A scams Person B by way of Person C, and Person C keep a fee for helping the transfer, Person C is just a guilty as Person A in most countries. But once 'Person' become 'Corporation' the laws get infinitely more complex. The way I see it, they really aren't much better than the scammers themselves.

Really all of this is moot as even with out WU or MG, they would still find a way to get their 'dollas'. But I guess my point is, we really don't need to make it easier on them, eh?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:53 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

username14 wrote:
Why isn't anyone holding the money transfer companies responsible?


They provide a service, and 99.99% of their transactions are legit. To hold other companies to that high of a standard would be akin to holding the automobile industry responsible for drunk driving, or gun manufactures accountable for murder.

Holding a legitimate company responsible for deliberate criminal use is like pissing in the wind.

WU and MG take reasonable precautions.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:11 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks for the quick replies.

I fully understand they provide a service. But doesn't that mean they also have responsibilities to go with that? I'm not saying the company isn't doing anything, I just think that they should give certain areas special attention.

I know there is no way 99.9% of transfers in a Lagos (not hating on Nigeria, just the only city that comes to mind) branch are legit. And you also can't tell me at least some of the people working at that branch aren't involved or getting some kickbacks to look the other way.

I actually thought of the 'gun store' angle when typing that. My retort is that if guns registered to that store were showing up in more and more crime scenes, wouldn't they start looking into the store and it's employees as well?

And I do agree with people ignoring the warnings. Trust me, I know there are no limits to human stupidity. Laughing But they put child proof caps on Aspirin 'for our protection' but want to send thousands of dollars to Africa? Got a credit card?

For a recent example, look at the whole Wikileaks Vs Visa/Mastercard crapstorm. While I don't agree with their ignorance, they did have good intentions (or at least I think they thought they did). Not trying to get off topic, I'm just pointing out that if Western Union (as a whole) truly did want to prevent the fraud, they could act. Pulling out of a city or country might not be the best approach but it would be a start. Razz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:32 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

If Western Union were to pull out of Nigeria, it would be financial suicide for them (both WU and Nigeria).

So far as corruption, the folks "investigating" the corrupt could be corrupt themselves.

I don't know what WU or MG can do. Maybe try to educate the public more? But if they were to single out certain countries as undesirable to send to, it could open up a can of worms.

I admit it would be nice to see 60 minutes or 20/20 (or the BBC equivalent) interview Western Union and/or Money Gram officials on 419 scams.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

dwatina wrote:
If Western Union were to pull out of Nigeria, it would be financial suicide for them (both WU and Nigeria).


Wouldn't that, in it self, suggest they are (in a way) a criminal enterprise? Nigeria isn't exactly a tourist hotspot so they are getting a good chunk of their money from being a tool for criminals to use. While they don't know on a case-by-case basis, I'm sure someone internally knows how much they are profiting from these fraudulent cases.

And as for how far the corruption reaches, that just makes all the more reason to up and leave. If you can't fix a house, you don't keep living in it. Even if you try, eventually the city will come by and condemn it. Maybe that's what they need. A 3rd party that doesn't have their eye on the profit margins. Rolling Eyes

I don't know. Maybe there is just something here I can't wrap my head around. Once again, I'm not all out blaming WU. I know it isn't all their fault. I know there is plenty of blame to go around.

There's the local (scammer side) law enforcement. They could just stand at the nearest internet cafe and catch more than they could handle, my next point. The local governments are in such disarray that they can't give the law enforcement the resources and support it needs. And of course, us (not eater, but the so called 'western' world). We are the ones falling for it and making it profitable. We fell prey to our own progress.

It's all a vicious chain and I'm not putting all the blame on only one party. Eater and it's equivalents are the answer to what we, the victims and targeted, can do. I'm just questioning what the transfer companies should be doing.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I see what you are saying, but there is only so much Western Union can do.

Basically--you want to hold them responsible because their services are being abused or used in an illegal manner.

For an analogy (if it works):

Let's say there is a city that has a lot of fancy sports cars. We'll just say a Corvette for this example. There is a Corvette shop and they are selling those Corvettes like crazy. But the folks in the city are speeding through town, running red lights, squealing tires, etc.

Do you shut down the Corvette dealership? Do you blame them for all the traffic violations?

***
Also--I would be curious as to how much off Western Union's business is overseas compared to continental U.S. My googling needs some work, so I don't know.

I think they can educate better, but I know that where I am, many convenience stores offer WU, and most of the clerks are high-school kids.

And I've seen on TV the "busting" of internet cafes, but there are so many cafes and only so many cops.

There is no easy answer and as Pastor Frank said (and I agree with), I think WU is doing a reasonable job dealing with it.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:37 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

username14 wrote:
Wouldn't that, in it self, suggest they are (in a way) a criminal enterprise? Nigeria isn't exactly a tourist hotspot so they are getting a good chunk of their money from being a tool for criminals to use.


Is it WU or MG's job to decide this? They can, as a private enterprise, decide where they want to do business, but they also have to make money for their shareholders. As long as they provide reasonable protection, passwords and such, they are immune.

Am I condoning scammer activity, no. But the realization is that life sucks, and we are here to help inform.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Yeah, I can't argue with that I guess. Maybe I am just being to idealistic. The thought just came to mind. I guess I'll leave it at this.

Thanks again everyone for your input.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

username14 wrote:
Yeah, I can't argue with that



YES YOU CAN!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:17 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Western Union provides disclaimers to warn people. What people do after they have been warned is their own responsibility. WU warns people to not send money to people they do not know personally.

Craigslist is another entity which provides disclaimers and warnings; again what people do after the disclaimer has been posted is their own responsibility.

In both WU and Craigslist cases, people have been warned thereby putting the responsibility in the people who send money and answer ads.

Pharmaceutical houses issue disclaimers on prescription and over-the-counter drugs and people still do not heed those warnings.

There is something about personal responsibility in life also. You can only hand hold people so much; the government cannot be responsible for people's decisions.

WU is on the New York Stock Exchange and is a corporate entity. Do you really want a government to step in and regulate them? They have been in business for 160 years the largest money transfer networks in the world. They are the largest money transfer networks in the world.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:50 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I may be "old fashioned" but I believe in personal responsibility. There are plenty of attempts to make corporations responsible for individual's lack of responsibility.

Toy manufactures have to say that small parts may be swallowed.

Window shade manufacturers have to say that the sting could strangle someone.

Doctors have to treat victims of incidents relating to the two above mentioned products. Maybe it is the doctors who are putting small parts in toys or strings on window shades so they get paid...

I KNOW WU warns people about sending money to people they don't know. Plenty of people do that anyway. How can WU be expected to screen every sender and recipient?

Just as the toy or window shade manufacturers is not required to screen it's customers.

WU and other wire transfer companies have legitimate uses. People choose to misuse them. People are responsible for their behavior.

Gambling businesses have signs warning that gambling can be addictive and you should only gamble what you can afford to lose. Yet people lose everything to gambling houses.

We work real hard to educate as many people as we can about scams. I hope you will join us in that adventure.

One word of caution though. this activity can and will steal all of your free time... if you let it! Wink

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:53 am Reply with quoteBack to top

There are several countries in with extremely high poverty rates and limited to no opportunities for those who are not in the upper class. In these countries, it is not uncommon for one or more family members to take advantage of any opportunity to move to another country where they can make some money and/or get a better education. If they are working, they frequently send a large portion of their earnings to support their family back home. Western Union and Moneygram are the method by which they send that money home.

Several African countries, including Nigeria, receive large amounts of money through MG and WU for this very reason. We see lots of scammers because that's what we deal with...WU sees many real people too.

When you first start baiting, and you see WU or MG coming up so often, it is understandably very easy to look at those companies and question their involvement.

But, start dealing with real victims in real situations, and you start to realize it's not that simple. It's not just that they have posted warnings--I can't tell you how many times we have encountered victims who were warned, in-person, by the clerk at WU or MG. In several of these cases, victims were actually turned away by a branch of WU or MG, and instead of accepting the facts, the victim went to another branch to send the money. Scammers often tell victims to lie and report that the money is being sent to a family member, because they lose quite a bit of business to WU and MG clerks. I personally dealt with one romance victim who was denied by both WU and MG (she had used both already--they flagged the transactions and refused to send more money without additional confirmation of recipient's identity)--the scammer convinced her to hollow out a bible and put cash in it. WU and MG can only do so much when they are dealing with a hooked victim--and if they aren't an option, the scammer will find a way.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:16 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ok, that does make sense to me. You're right, that was an angle I didn't see. I've got look in to the victim side of this whole subject more than I have. Embarassed Unlike some, I was introduced directly to Eater. So while I've had some idea, I don't have any direct experience with the victims role in this.

I know how, well how do I put this... stubborn I guess, people can get when it comes to protecting egos. So I can see someone getting scammed fighting people trying to warn them (and their better judgment) to 'prove they aren't wrong about this'.

I still don't believe WU and friends are without fault in the grand scheme of things, but I've got more of a grasp on the bigger picture now. Thank you.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:59 am Reply with quoteBack to top

username14 wrote:
But then again, the people working in these local branches are probably in on it too.

Very few will be employed by WU, but franchised agents. And usually as a sideline.
And many agents do warn off victims, or scammers wouldn't ask victims to lie about the purpose of the payment.
Quote:
Important Note:
Western Union is designed mainly for sending cash in personal purposes and most of the Western Union Agents are not aware of our privacy and protection policy.
So, telling them that you are sending the money in business purposes will prevent your money transfer to go through.
You may tell them that you are sending the money to a friend of yours in personal purposes.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:04 am Reply with quoteBack to top

dwatina wrote:
I don't know what WU or MG can do.


One thing springs to mind: Tighten up security, so that a transfer only can be picked up in the country it's sent to, for instance. It doesn't seem secure to me, that an amount I send to a given person in a specific place, can practically be picked up by anyone anywhere in the world, as long as the person knows the MTCN. While tightening security in that area may not solve the 419 problem, it would sure as hell be a nice obstacle for the lads.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:02 am Reply with quoteBack to top

TheDane wrote:
One thing springs to mind: Tighten up security, so that a transfer only can be picked up in the country it's sent to, for instance.

I know we claim otherwise, but I'm not convinced that it doesn't already work that way officially.
How else can you explain why imaginary pet shipping businesses are sited in Cameroon? It adds nothing to the credibility of the scam. So why do lads do it unless they have no choice?

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you dont have a phone.that makes makes you joe butt. Fuck you and go find something to do man. Stop disturbing me please.
This is definitely why you will remain and die in poverty, ignorant of good things and easy acknowledgment of bad things and words. Shame on you, you wicked generation children.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:12 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ On the other hand, it's a commonly accepted notion here on Eater, that the person and country is irrelevant, as long as you has the MTCN and security Q/A.

Personally, I wouldn't know - I've only used WU twice, and only to send to people I knew IRL. But a lot of the expierienced part of the baiter population here seems to know, that things are as I describe here. Wink

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

dwatina wrote:


I admit it would be nice to see 60 minutes or 20/20 (or the BBC equivalent) interview Western Union and/or Money Gram officials on 419 scams.


Fast forward to 4:07 mins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOGAxUqHxsE

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:00 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I hadn’t heard a percentage as high as 99 percent, but I am pretty sure its in the single digits tho. I believe that Western Union is taking reasonable steps, with all things considered. I am not saying in the future they may try additional measures.

Problems
One too many vics don’t report when they have been taken. How would they know if something is wrong if no one tells them?

Too many vics act too recklessly, and or ignore warnings. So if they didn’t use WU they would find some other way to get cash.

I am sure that WU could do more, but, despite all the noise (by the power that be), net fraud really isn’t as high of a priority as I feel it should be.

Western Union probably could improve, but they are way ahead in fighting fraud when you consider other resources scammers use. Like select internet host, I have seen a few keep a site up even though its blatantly used for fraud.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:14 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I had talked to a gal at our local convenience store (they have a Western Union desk there). According to her, the WU payment is supposed to only be picked up in the city to which it was sent, and ID is required to pick it up. However, if the test question and answer is used, then no ID is required to pick it up. So basically if the test question and answer is used, anyone can pick up the payment.

@spot: Thanks for the link Smile

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:21 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ There's the loophole right there. I'm sure it's possible to think of a more secure system than that.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:32 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^I think the rationale behind it (and I could be wrong, but it was explained to me):

Sometimes a spouse may need to pick up the payment, and if it's not in his/her name (i.e., in the spouses name), they can't pick it up. But--WU can make exceptions so long as the last name is the same.

There could be instances where someone travels several miles to pick up the payment, and doesn't have their ID. Or in the case of someone who really is stranded with no money and no ID, the test and answer question thing is of benefit to them.

Sure it's a loophole, but I can see how the test question and answer (and not requiring ID) can be helpful to real people in need.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:02 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Tighten up security, so that a transfer only can be picked up in the country it's sent to, for instance.

AFAIK that's one of the changes WU have introduced recently. (Another one is that there's no way to change the country.)
This may well be true in my experience - I for one believe there's an increase in lads asking to either send money to some kind of 'representative' in Nigeria instead of a Western country, or use MG instead of WU.

As for always requiring an ID, many people in third-world countries simply do not have such a thing, and a test question and answer is probably the next best solution to verify the recipient's identity.

Just my .02. Wink

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Bankster wrote:
As for always requiring an ID, many people in third-world countries simply do not have such a thing, and a test question and answer is probably the next best solution to verify the recipient's identity.


That may very well be true. On the other hand, there is a lot of other things you can't do without an ID in most parts of the world - drive a car, buy a gun, buy a plane ticket, open a bank account, blabla the list is long, and a lot on that list also applies for Third World Countries. Unless WU has it as a goal somewhere in their mission statement that they want to help people without ID's in the Third World, I hardly see that as being relevant. But of course, if a substantial part of WU's earnings come from transfers to that particular market segment, it's a different matter.

(Sorry for breaking the quote rule, but I needed to emphasize the part of Banksters post I'm adressing.)

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Please Taunt and Ridicule Me


Joined: 27 Apr 2011
Posts: 186
Location: 127.0.0.1


PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:23 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm glad to see my idea wasn't completely misguided. Smile I do apologize, as I have gone back and reread what I wrote and now I feel I was ranting a bit. I try to be as objective as I can when debating topics like this but sometimes things just rub me the wrong way.

The ID is a good point. Enforcing that might help but I'm sure they could get access to a fake just as easily (if not more) as we could in a shady side street. I know we have all seen their... some what awe-inspiring artistic skills, but I'm sure some have seen next to perfect fakes as well.

Then there is the corruption issue with that. Even if they do change the company policy, what is to stop a local clerk/agent from taking a $50 on the side and accepting a bad fake or even no ID at all? I just can't accept that in an environment that seems to not only accept these scams but praise them wouldn't have a few bad apples in legit positions. I also don't believe WU imports all their workers and don't have locals working at or even running the local branches.

The more I read about baits and scams, the more I'm convinced it is the corrupt environment that is hands down the biggest reason these scams are not isolated events. The problem is addressing it. How do you fix a system that rewards people for keeping it so broken?

Edit: On a side note; I do feel really bad for those locals in the area that have to deal with this. I also know there are those, more or less, trapped in these bad areas who are embarrassed by the reputation they have. People who I'd like to believe are on the same moral level as I am. Like the article Nailgunner posted yesterday, there are people there tired of being clumped in with the scammers. Sadly, they seem to fall into the minority.
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