Western Union cautions on relationship scams
Dubai, November 27, 2012
Western Union, a global leader in payment services, has warned on the billion dollar online matrimonial industry, saying that fraudsters are cashing in by targeting women and men looking for marriage.
The scam starts simply: One party meets the other on the Internet. Then the “relationship” progresses: they e-mail, talk on the phone, and trade pictures. And, finally, they make plans to meet, and make marriage plans, Western Union said in a statement.
As the relationship gets stronger, the requests start to change. One party asks the other to wire them money; one needs bus fare to visit a sick uncle. The first wire transfer is small but the requests keep coming and growing, it explained.
The payback promises are empty; the money’s gone, and so is he, it warned.
“Relationship scams, especially those that start online, are common,” said Shelley Bernhardt, director of Consumer Protection at Western Union.
“Fraudsters use online matrimonial sites to gain peoples’ trust and affection but their interest is money, not a relationship. Knowledge is power and we want to arm people with the right information so they can avoid these scams.”
“The ‘too good to be true’ expression is definitely something to remember to protect against a scam, along with a few other simple rules,” Bernhardt added.
These rules include:
• Never send money to people or organizations you don’t know; only send money to people you personally know and trust – and in this case, have met in-person. Be especially cautious with people you meet online, even if you correspond with them via email or phone.
• Be wary of anyone who asks you to leave the matrimonial website immediately to continue your conversation through email or IM. This allows fraudsters to carry out their scam without the matrimonial site having a record of your encounter.
• Be cautious of someone who claims to be from your country, but is currently overseas. Fraudsters will often use offshore accounts, making it more difficult for authorities to track them down and catch them.
• Never provide your banking information to unknown individuals or businesses.
• Be alert. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
• Verify every emergency situation before sending money.
• Fraudsters can trick their victims in a variety of ways. Sometimes they express instant intention to marry and other times they slowly lead their victims along. No matter how much your relationship might seem like the real thing, you should be suspicious if someone starts asking for information like credit card or Social Security numbers.
Western Union provides a trusted and reliable way for people to send money to family members and friends.
However, it is important to remember that a money transfer can be paid out to the receiver within a short time—even minutes—and after the money is paid, consumers cannot obtain a refund from Western Union, even if the transfer was the result of fraud, Bernhardt said. – TradeArabia News Service