Earlier this year, money transfer service Western Union paid $586 million to settle charges of aiding and abetting wire fraud — i.e., looking the other way while scammers tricked victims into paying money for fake "prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards." Now, Western Union has opened up a claims process to redistribute that cash to those who were targeted. Some individuals have received a pre-filled claim form from class action notice and claims administrator Gilardi & Co. that comes with a Claim ID and PIN to streamline the process. However, if you were one of the many who sent money to a scammer under fraudulent pretenses — such as a lottery scam, a grandparent or emergency scam, or an online dating scam — but didn't get a pre-filled form, you can now file a claim online by February 12, 2018 to receive a full refund. Here's how:
- First, figure out whether or not your incident happened within the accepted window. If you transferred money to a scammer between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you can submit a claim.
- Go to the Western Union Refunds page of the Federal Trade Commission's website.
- Click "I lost my money, but did not get a claim form."
- Fill out the Petition for Remission to the best of your ability.
- Submit your claim.
Note that there is no guarantee that you'll get your money back. Each individual's claim must be verified by the U.S. Department of Justice, and when/if your claim is verified, the amount you get will depend on how much you lost and the number of people who submit valid claims. The FTC also says that it may take up to a year to receive your refund due to the time it will take for the DOJ to review and verify each claim. In addition, be aware that If you sent multiple money transfers related to a scam, you can (and definitely should) file claims for each incident — given that they all occurred between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017.
Still need something cleared up? Sound off in the comments or head over to the FTC website for more details.