News from MoneyGram

Here is a press release from MoneyGram

MINNEAPOLIS, Jul 12, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) —

MoneyGram International (NYSE: MGI), a leading global payment services company, has introduced state-of-the-art technology to better protect its customers and agents from fraud. The enhanced technologies, which layer in protection through identification of suspicious transactions, computer and behavioural authentication and anti-phishing capabilities, are already dramatically reducing third-party consumer fraud at agent locations and online.

“MoneyGram takes fraud very seriously,” said Dennis Wildsmith, vice president of transaction services and fraud prevention at MoneyGram. “We have established systems and processes to enhance safe and reliable money transfers, train our agents and employees about fraud, and to educate consumers on ways to safeguard  their money. These new technologies are one more step in creating a world-class consumer anti-fraud program.”

As part of the new measures to combat fraud, MoneyGram has implemented a solution called Global Compliance that identifies suspicious or high-risk transactions based on established criteria. Global Compliance helped prevent more than 1,000 customers from losing funds to fraud during its first 50 days. In addition, MoneyGram reduced internet purchase fraud by 30 percent during this same period.

The system scans each transaction looking for signs of fraud, and suspicious transactions are put on hold until the company can confirm if a transaction is legitimate or fraudulent. Global Compliance rules were developed specifically by MoneyGram, offering the company the flexibility to modify the rules as needed in order to respond more quickly to new and different kinds of fraud. Today, the tool is monitoring all send transactions from Canada and the United States to anywhere in the world.

“These are some of the multiple steps that will significantly increase our ability to mitigate fraud around the world,” said Wildsmith. “We’re already seeing positive results. Since its implementation, the system has been effective at stopping thousands of fraudulent transactions in the U.S. alone. Our goal is to have the system integrated with all point-of-sale equipment within two years, giving MoneyGram’s global agents the ability to more effectively identify suspicious transactions and better enforce anti-fraud and anti-money laundering processes to protect consumers.”

MoneyGram has instituted another step to protect its customers through a process that identifies individual consumers – who have made or attempted to make transactions that are known to be fraudulent – being victimized by scams. MoneyGram’s new fraud solutions build on efforts already in place to mitigate fraud at the point of transaction. These include warnings on MoneyGram send forms for the customer to answer before sending money and agents verbally alerting customers when they see possible fraud taking place.

To further protect consumers, the company has also implemented an RSA Fraud Intelligence Solution, an anti-phishing tool that prevents cyber criminals from compromising agent computers and stealing customer information. The solution provides user and computer authentication technologies to prevent fraud from the point of login through completion of the transaction. RSA’s technology also conducts behavioural monitoring – flagging transactions for review if a customer suddenly changes his/her pattern in making transfers.

Additionally, MoneyGram, a leading money order provider, has also redesigned its money orders to provide more highly visible safeguards against counterfeiting – the number one type of fraud for this kind of payment. The redesign incorporates visual and physical features that are easy to see on the front of each money order, not easy to replicate and contains an additional call to action for the recipient of a money order to verify its validity.

Scam Victims Arrested – adding insult to injury

Being arrested can be one of the most frightening experiences for a person, but when you add that to being the victim of a scam, you can defiantly feel like you are on an emotional roller-coaster.

Most people know the saying “Innocent until proven guilty” but the scam victims that I have spoken with that have been arrested would say that they were seen as guilty until they could prove they were innocent. Why is this? Over the years some businesses and banking institutions have gotten better at detecting a counterfeit cashier’s check or money order, but instead of warning the customer that the item is a counterfeit and that they are involved in a scam, they instead call the police into the matter and press criminal charges against the customer. These businesses and financial institutions will charge that the customer was aware that the document was counterfeit and that they were trying to defraud them . . . basically, that they were in on the scam. Most times the customer is truly an innocent person who really believed that the cashier’s check sent to them was good, or was only going to the bank to ask them to verify it and then before they know it then end up in handcuffs in a police department.

If you find yourself in this situation you need to read the document “The At Risk of Arrest and Arrested Fraud Victim Manual” This document will cover you and your relationship with law enforcement, your attorney, how to write a narrative of what happened to you, as well as defining some of the legal terms that you will hear so that you know better what to expect.


One of the really important things that this document says is that if you are a fraud/scam victim and you feel you are at risk of being arrested, keep a copy of this manual with you at all times. If something happens, you can refer to this document so that you don’t panic and say or do something that will make your situation worse. NEVER wave you Miranda Rights.


While we were never arrested in our case, I do understand the feeling of panic of becoming a scam victim. My first thoughts were “Who do I call? Where do I report this?” That is exactly why we have the Resources page on our site. When you feel like your world has been turned upside-down and you don’t know what to do, write up one letter that includes all of the information on what happened . . . names, dates, who said what and when . . . and then send that one letter to all of the agencies listed at our Resource Page.  We also have information on banking terms on this page along with other helpful tips like

  • Close any other accounts that you have at that bank so they cannot freeze those accounts
  • Turn off any direct deposits you have going into that account
  • Turn off any automatic payments or withdrawals you have coming out of that account
  • Open an account at another bank

Also, for support from others who have been in your shoes, you can talk to other scam victims at our message board.  Many people find this to be like an online therapy session.

Money Order Scams

My good friend, Denise Richardson of Give Me Back My Credit just sent me a link to a story that I think all of you should read.

http://www.mainstreet.com/article/smart-spending/truth-about-money-order-scams

I love that the author starts off by calling this a case of the clueless banks, because this is the way that I have felt for years. When we were hit with our Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam, which works the same way as the Money Order Scam the author talks about in this story, our bank told us that the cashier’s check would be verified as good and clear in 24 hours. When we questioned that answer they assured us that 24 hours was all that it took for it to be “verified”.

Back then, I assumed that this meant that someone at the bank actually did something to “verify” that the cashier’s check or money order was good. You would think with all of the computer programs out there that they could have a system where you enter the check information and it would tell you if it that check was written on a bad account or if the account had enough funds in it to cover that check . . . and last time I checked, the phone system still worked for the bank to call the issuing bank to “verify” all of this.

So, a week after we deposited the cashier’s check that we were sent, we got a call from our bank telling us that it was counterfeit and that we were liable for the entire amount. I asked them how this could be true since they told us that the check was “good”, “verified” and that the “funds were available”. They informed us that when we signed the check we became liable for the full amount, and that if we wanted to know for sure that it was good we should have called the issuing bank . . . funny . . . that is what I thought THEY were going to do when they said that they were going to “verify” the check!

But it gets better . . . as we were battling the bank and speaking with the Loss Prevention Department my husband asked them “So, how long does it REALLY take for a cashier’s check to clear?” After asking her supervisor, the person we were speaking with told us “24 hours”, to which we responded, “If that were true, we would not be having this conversation with you right now.”

And that is why I agree with the author of this article that the banks are clueless.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Support Scam Victims United by shopping at
http://shopittous.blogspot.com/

Scams and the Holidays

Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and it is time to start thinking about the Holiday Season. We at Scam Victims United usually see an increase in the number of scam victims during this time of year. Many people are looking for a way to make some extra money to pay for the gifts that they want to give to family and friends, so they may sell something they own at an online classified ad site, like Craigslist, or they may look for an extra part-time job. It is because of this need for the extra money to get through the Holidays that some people may let their guard down and become more vulnerable to online scams.

Common online scams include the overpayment scams, in the form of counterfeit cashier’s checks and money orders, or work at home job offers such as the Secret Shopper Scam. Let’s review the signs of both.

Counterfeit Cashier’s check or Money Order Scam

You are selling an item over the Internet – it could be a used car or motorcycle, jewelry or even bred animals. You receive an email offer to purchase your item and the buyer says he’ll send a bank cashier’s check. The buyer is from Nigeria or “West Africa”, but has a business associate in the United States who will send you the cashier’s check. Then you are told that for some reason the check was already made out to you for an amount larger than your asking price. The buyer asks you to please deposit the check, wait for it to clear, and then send him the difference — “but only after the cashier’s check clears, of course.”

You are skeptical – but, sure enough, the bank cashier’s check arrives by Fed Ex, it looks real, your bank accepts the check, and the bank assures you the funds are in fact available. So you wait the time the bank recommends to verify that the check is clear and then you wire the difference to your buyer in Nigeria and prepare to ship your item.

A week later your bank calls: “We’re very sorry, but the cashier’s check was counterfeit” — a superb copy, but worthless. Your account is frozen. You must pay the bank back the entire amount of the cashier’s check. You may even be considered a fraud suspect yourself.

Secret Shopper Scam

The scammer will either place an ad in a legitimate classified listing, online or in print, or they will collect their victim’s names and email addresses off of resumes posted online. Some of them are even making “copy cat” websites of legitimate Secret Shopper companies to use in their scam to help convince the victim that this is all legitimate. For a listing of legitimate Secret Shopper companies, go to http://www.mysteryshop.org/

 The victim will be told that they have been hired as a Secret Shopper and will be sent a cashier’s check or money order to cash and use on their assignments. One of the assignments is to review the service at a Western Union or Money Gram location. They are given a name and address to wire money to, from the check that was sent to them, and told to fill out an evaluation form on the service received and email or fax that back to the company they are working for.

Everything seems fine, and some victims may even complete a few “assignments” before the check is discovered to be counterfeit. On average, it takes about 10 business days for the bank to realize that the check is counterfeit, but we have seen some cases where it has taken over 6 months. Once the bank dose find that the check is counterfeit, they will contact you demanding the return of the money and deduct the full amount of the check from your bank account. This sometimes leaves the victims with negative bank accounts.

For more information on the check clearing process and the banking terms, please read http://scamvictimsunited.blogspot.com/2009/08/banking-terms-not-as-clear-as-they.html

Shawn Mosch

Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com

There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Support Scam Victims United by shopping at http://shopittous.blogspot.com/