FTC Payout for Western Union Money Order Scams
My wife likes to track Romance scams on her cynical Website. (She was once the target of an electronics reshipment scam she uncovered.)
Romance scams (Wikipedia description) have been going on for over a century, but have been weaponised with the Internet. Essentially, a person contacts you through E-mail and strikes up an on-line romance. The goal is to take your money (by claiming they need you to send it to help them buy a plane ticket, process a visa, &c), or take a bank’s money (by getting you to cash a fraudulent instrument, such as a cheque or Western Union money order).
Romance is not the only sort of scam that uses fraudulent monetary instruments, but they sometimes take people for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you send a scammer your own money, you’re the victim of a confidence game. If you cash a fraudulent financial instrument even unwittingly, you could be held liable for fraud (and repayment of the money). Thus, such scams are particularly heinous: playing on the emotions of someone to commit fraud on your behalf.
The Federal Trade Commission, the US Postal Service, and Department of Justice reached a $586 million settlement with Western Union, with that company admitting it aided and abetted wire fraud.
The FTC now has a claim site set up here to claim settlement money if you were defrauded in a scam using faked Western Union money orders you may file a claim, provided the fraud took place between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. The FTC notes that having proof (receipts, &c) is helpful for making a claim, but you can still make a claim by giving a statement with sufficient evidence of a fraud perpetrated on you. If you are unsure whether your claim would stand up, you should file the claim anyway and let the FTC and DOJ make the determination.
You must file your claim with the FTC at the link above by February 12, 2018 to have your claim considered.