Consumer Alert: Victims recovery some losses in MoneyGram scam
Postal inspectors will distribute $46 million to almost 18,000 victims.
The U.S. Postal Service delivered early Christmas gifts to thousands of consumers last month who were victims of scams involving MoneyGram. Millions of dollars are being returned to people who thought they lost it all.
"One morning I answered the phone and this a young femanaid "hi, Grandma,"" says Wanda Wood, a fraud victim.
Wood says the voice sounded like her grandson, Matt. She became concerned when he said he was in Canada and needed help. She immediately wired $4,500 to him.
"I really and truly thought it was Matt," says Wood. "The kid sounded like him."
She wired the money via Moneygram, but con artists intercepted it along with funds sent by hundreds of others who were targeted in the scheme.
"I was really disappointed," says Wood. "There I was out of $4,500."
the justice department found moneygram in violation of processing thousands of transactions for individuals known to be involved in scams.
"The corrupt agents converted the money transfers to cash in a manner that maintained the anonymity of fraudsters," says Nick Alicea, a U.S. Postal Inspector.
MoneyGram profited from the scheme by collecting fees and other revenues on the fraudulent transactions. Schemes included "the grandparent scam" that lured in Wood, as well as secret shopper scams, sweepstakes, and lottery scams.
Don Golden's mother lost $60,000 and came close to losing her home.
"She decided that she didn't have the money to pay her school taxes because she was putting all of her money in this sweepstakes activity," says Don Golden, a fraud victim.
MoneyGram has agreed to pay $100 million for its role in the scam between 2004 and 2009.
"This, in my mind, is a milestone day because we are seeing some justice for my mother and my family," says Golden.
Postal inspectors will distribute $46 million to almost 18,000 victims or family members of scam victims across the country. Victims are grateful, but for many, their experience has taken its toll.
"It will never give back what I've been through, because it tore my world apart. It really did," says Karen Luther, a fraud victim.
Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by the MoneyGram scheme is urged to visit www.justice.gov for instructions on how to file a request for compensation.
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