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 Social/moral obligations from Western Union/Moneygram

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Miscellaneelout
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

It's terrifying just reading on this (& similar sites), about the volume of, and dollar impact of various frauds. There's a vast array and complexity of all types of frauds but I'm referring specifically to those addressed here.

In addition, the amount of work and administration this causes in people dealing with the issues at a local level - Police forces worldwide, Banks (in handling fraudulent 'travellers cheques'), internet providers (Craiglist, ebay, Friday-Ads and so-on), and not to mention various International bodies trying to grapple with these issues. There seems to be a very common middleman in frauds discussed on this website.

Whilst credit card providers have implemented some anti-fraud measures (mostly to protect themselves), I've not seen much action by Western Union and/or Moneygram on this issue, except a few lame words.
I noticed that just this month WU issued a press release to say they were introducing a consumer campaign to 'educate people' (in the US & Canada only). I wonder if that will extend to putting up clear signage in their offices? Or training there staff to do some risk analysis and potential intervention. I checked their UK WU website - and there's no mention of anything about scams whatsoever on that site. On the Australian site, there's a small box called 'Consumer Protection' that links to a State Police website; On the WU Ireland website - there's a bit more at least with some printable pdf files about the various types of scams, and a list of things you shouldn't do

I apprecicate of course that their business profits extremely well from the activity of scammers. And not all users of Western Union will be scammers. It just seems that if there was some type of control/intervention exercised at the counter level by these companies, particularly from those based in Western countries where money is being wired to countries with a high risk rating, we'd likely see a lot less people scammed.

Trying to lobby for legislation to get some type of intervention/control across multiple countries and jurisdictions would be impossible, but has there been any Social Media and/or other campaigns to try and get some sort of commitment from these organistions at all?
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Tsnerd
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:50 am Reply with quoteBack to top

What would you suggest that companies such as WU or MG do?

Should they query their customers? Pry into that person's reasons for sending money to whomever they wish?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:17 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Whatever barriers WU and MG put in the way of scam transfers, scammers will figure a way around. Often they ask the victim to send money by WU to a mule in his country; the mule then forwards the money to the scammer, using a bank account in a business name. If they warn people not to send money to people they don't know, scammers get their victims to think of them as friends.

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Miscellaneelout
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:29 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Just looking to see what others on this forum suggest. Prying into why people are sending money and to whom obviously is not the answer and would not work. Credit card companies have me validate a process when I'm buying online. Has anyone in this forum been into a WU store? Do they have anything like a 'scam checklist poster' above counters?
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TheDane
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:47 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Partial screenshot of a genuine Western Union receipt:

Image

In other words, yes, they do have a certain degree of fraud prevention.

The thing about WU, is that it's a product rather than a franchise. I don't know how it works Stateside, but here in Europe, WU and MG are products carried by banks, Forex, post offices etc., but also by some convenience stores, jeweller shops, cellphone dealers, all kinds of places. I'm not aware of WU running a chain of "WU stores", so I don't think such a thing as a "WU store" exists. Wink

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Last edited by TheDane on Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ScammedOut
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:52 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't know what WU and MG can do. I know if I worked there and saw an elderly lady come in to send $3,000 to Abegunde Ibukun Opeyemi, e.g., in Nigeria, I"d be upset but how would I stop her?

It's her business what she does with her money, and the sad thing is that even if some people are told and shown that it's 100% certain they're being scammed they'll send the money anyway and keep sending it.

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Tsnerd
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Has anyone in this forum been into a WU store?


I'm not familiar with actual stores and have only ever seen money wiring services set up as kiosks in the local supermarket or stores like Walmart or Target.

The ones in my area do have posters advising against sending money to strangers or other anti-fraud signs, but these warnings vary, depending on that property's management.

Quote:
Credit card companies have me validate a process when I'm buying online.


That is only to verify that you are the actual credit card owner and has nothing to do with whatever you are purchasing, which isn't your CC company's business.

Personally, I don't think it is possible or reasonable to hold money wiring companies culpable for transactions made by their customers.

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buried under 419 emails
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:23 am Reply with quoteBack to top

IN MY OPINION

I guess W/U could do more, as domain sellers could do more, as law enforcement could do more.

The key thing is the public perceptions of the problem. Right now people see it as a problem, but not a big problem. When an event happens that increases the public concern over this, more things will be done.

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4X1X9
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:14 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

There are lots of WU/MG offices near where I live for the reason they provide a very useful service for a mobile world population. My city has a large immigrant population, many of whom must use these services to wire money to family and friends who are struggling back home. The test question & answer acts as a substitute to people who don't possess a Driving Licence or Passport.

I you toughen up security at WU/MG you are going to inconvenience a lot of genuine customers and lose business.

Scammers exploit how WU/MG works but even if WU/MG did decide to put more security checks in place lads would just find another method of obtaining money and they would lose custom for reasons already mentioned. So in who's interest would it be?

The only way to reduce the impact of this scam is through education and making as many people aware of it is possible. WU/MG do have literature warning people about sending money to strangers, that is all they can do.

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Karl_Ranseier
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

WU and MG are doing their part of warning the customers.
But to greatly reduce the number of potential victims, the people need to be educated about scams.
When I started with baiting I already knew enough te be careful, but after a year of scambaiting I knew the most common scam schemes. And even today I may learn a new trick, some scammers invented.

[joke]Maybe the schools can let the kids do some scambaiting to educate them not to fall for advanced fee fraud[/joke]

Best thing is to spread the word about scam schemes, so it's mor difficult for the scammers to get a real (paying) victim.

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devil_woman
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

If sender wants confirmation of ID and location of person collecting WU will not oblige without a court order.

They should be obliged by law to provide such proof to any sender who asks for it!

Their agents should get ID etc but do they in say West Africa?

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TheDane
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:25 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Obliged by what law? US law? UK law? German law? Ghanian law? International "law"? The problem is, that law in one country doesn't necessarily apply in the next.

I have no doubt that WU and MG don't like the fact that scammers are using their services, but there are limits to what they can do. Besides, not having an ID is rather common in Africa (it's both difficult and expensive to get one on an average African income). Many Africans are working abroad and send money home to their families. That doesnt make them scammers. Should WU and MG cut them off? There is 1 billion people living in Africa. The number of scammers coming from Africa is more obscure, but 1 million has been mentioned several times, so let's go by that. Should WU cut off those of the remaining 999 million potential costumers from using their services, just because they don't happen to have a passport?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't see any real effective way for them to do a lot. More signage could help, but that is no guarantee. Legislation would certainly be useless. There are legit reasons for lack of ID and anything put in place would have to account for these events.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Good points from The Dane ^ The numbers are staggeringly in favour of WU and MG ( and other cash transfer services) being absolutely legitimate businesses. Taking your figures as somewhere close, and assuming that payments from victims are occasional and stop after a while whereas payments between an ex-patriate and his family at home continue indefinitely, the fraction of payments made through these services that are actually fraudulent in nature is extremely small. The cross-border issue is also a serious complicating factor, as is the routing. While lads can generate transfer routes in a few hours it would take months to investigate.

Example: A Ghanaian scammer with a chinese email address contacts an Englishman, who makes a bank transfer of £2000 to a mule in India. The mule sends £1600 to the scammer via Western Union who gets an accomplice to withdraw the funds in Nigeria using a fake ID and a set of stolen bank account details. Even getting all the companies involved to cooperate with you will take weeks or months, and while the humiliation and financial consequences for the victim will be severe and ongoing the chances of recovering any money or bringing the scammer to justice are so small as to be simply not worth pursuing. So they don't, unless there are on-shore lads in the victim's country who can be arrested and either imprisoned or deported as appropriate. If so he may be less likely to report the crime out of fear for his life, so no investigation anyway...

It's a very difficult crime to handle. We do what we can to put heads on sticks wherever possible but spreading awareness of AFF is probably the best way to put the brakes on it. In-school education is not such a silly idea IMO.

Perhaps a more useful figure would be the number of fraudulent transactions that are stopped or allowed through but these are much harder to get. You would need:

Total number of fraudulent transactions
False positive ("insult") percentage - legit transactions that are challenged
False negative ("evasion") percentage - bent transactions that are not challenged
True positive ("catch") rate - bent transactions that are challenged.

Because of the nature of AFF, the shame felt by the victims and the unwillingness of authorities to investigate it, these figures will almost certainly remain guesswork, although I am sure the service operators have at least an idea of what they are - Although they are rather unlikely to share it with us.

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Miscellaneelout
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Well considered answers and useful to see some international perspectives. Also some interesting and varying views on an issue that if it was easy to solve, would have been done so a long time ago.

There are plenty of scam/fraud organisations progressing the themes here with the general public, regulators and service providers. I guess in the meantime this site continues on with the excellent job it does in educating, and preventing, as well as minimising time available for the bad guys to rack up another victim.

Thanks to posters for their views.
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