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419 Scams and Western Union Money Transfer

Most 419 scams / advance fee frauds by gangs from West and South Africa and many online scams run by Eastern European crime groups involve either Western Union money transfer (WU) or MoneyGram (MG). These services are the preferred method of online scammers to receive cash from their victims.

These services are quick and - more importantly in scams - the recipient essentially remains anonymous. Even though in some countries the WU agents will check picture ID when funds are picked up, the criminals don't have any problems getting hold of fake ID. Once they have picked up the cash there is no trace to who they are or where they live.

By contrast, bank accounts usually (but not always) involve some degree of address verifiction. For example, when you open a bank account the bank will usually mail the ATM card to the address given by the person who opens the account. If a fake address were used, the person would never receive the ATM card. With WU the criminal can give the sender any postal address he likes but will still receive the cash. Postal addresses have no meaning in a WU/MG transfer because the recipient walks into any agent office and picks up the funds. The money is not delivered to his home or to a bank account. Depending on the country, the recipient can pick any agent office in the nominated city or the entire country. That is one reason why the police will not even try to stake out agent offices.

Because of these security flaws please take note of the following:

  • Never use Western Union money transfer or MoneyGram for sending money to any person who you do not know personally. Simply speaking, the Internet and Western Union money transfer or MoneyGram don't mix. Any transaction that involves a person introduced via email or a website (online store, eBay, classified ads site, etc.) should not involve Western Union or Moneygram. These services are fine for wiring cash to a family member who urgently needs it, but do not use it with strangers.

  • If you have wired money and it hasn't been picked up yet, call the wire transfer service to cancel the transaction. You will have to pay the wire transfer fee, but at least you won't lose the cash you sent. Once the money has been picked up there is no way to get it back.

  • Any scheme that involves forwarding cash via Western Union or MoneyGram after one of the following:
    • cashing a check (cheque) or money order
    • receiving cash in your bank account by bank wire transfer
    • receiving a PayPal payment
    is virtually guaranteed to be a scam. The payment to you will turn out to be fraudulent (stolen check, hacked online banking, etc.), but usually only after you have already forwarded the cash. It is you will then be left to pick up the financial and legal consequences.

  • Avoid any online store that sells mobile phones, computers and other electronics which wants to be paid by Western Union or MoneyGram.

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Fraud example:

DATE: MAY 27TH, 2006.
BATCH: EGGS-xxx-xxx-xxx
This is to inform you on the release of the CONTINENTAL E-MAIL LOTTERY held on the 20th of May 2006.
The results was released on the 24th of MaY 2006. Your email address was attached to ticket number xxxxxxxxxxxxxx with serial number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx that drew the lucky numbers of xxxxxxxxxx, which consequently won the lottery in the 1st category.
You have therefore been awarded a lump of 550,000.00(FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND EURO ONLY) cash credited to file with REF: N xxxxxxxxxxxxxx This is from 5,500,000 (FIVE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND EURO) in cash among the 100 participants finalist playing 100 full tickets in which 10 winners was selected.
Your fund is now deposited with Wincor Nixdorf Service and Consultancy and insured in your email address ,due to the fact that we only have your e-mail address in our custody and also due to mix up of some numbers and e-mail addresses, we ask that you keep this award from public notice until your claims have been processed and the award claimed by you. We assure you that your full winning price will be given to you as no individual or organisation has the legal right to deduct or add to you award otherwise legal actions will be taken .You must receive your full award of five hundred and fifty thousand euros as processed by your security company.
This is part of our security protocol to avoid problems from participants as it has happened in the past.
All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 25,000 names and screened to 100 e-mails which participated in final lottery from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Africa .
This programme is sponsored by INTERNET EXPLORER / WORLD INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY ORGANISATION TO PROMOTE and ENHANCE the use of SOFT WARE IN THE GOBAL WORLD. We hope your lucky e-mail address will draw a bigger cash prize in the subsequent programs. To begin your lottery claims, please contact your claims agent,
DR Goldman Wales
Telephone number: 0034-620-692-135 ,
Wincor Nixdorf Service and Consultancy
You are required to present your information of identity to show you are the user of this email address and whom to claim award, either your country passport or any other valid identity is required.
Remember, all winnings must be processed not later than two weeks from the day you receive this notification.
Any requirement not met before this date,funds will be returned to the MINISTRY OF FINANCE and 10% of your lottery winning belongs to the security company because they are the company assigned by the Continental Email Lottery Board to process your winnings to you.From your winnings, 10% you must remit after you have received your winning prize because the money is insured in your e-mail address and can not be removed.
Remember to quote your reference and batch numbers ( BATCH: xxxxxxxxx REFERENCE: xxxxxxxxxT) in every of your response to your claim agent. Further more, should there be any change of address, inform your claim agent as soon as possible.A copy of your lucky winning ticket and all other informations will be sent to you by your claim agent when your award has been processed and transferred , Your claims agent is DR Goldman Wales.
Once again from all members of our staff CONGRATULATIONS for being a part of our International promotions program.
NOTE:winners below eighteen years ( -18yrs ) are disqualified from this programme.
We wish you good fortunes.

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