CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This week, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the state’s involvement in a $591 million settlement with Western Union Company, resolving a multistate investigation into consumer usage of the wire transfer service to send money in a wide variety of third-party scams.
Approximately 2,300 consumers living in West Virginia are eligible for refunds totaling $2.9 million.
“Today’s settlement is an important victory in protecting consumers,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I believe this will institute key safeguards, however it is no replacement for common sense and caution. Consumers must carefully evaluate any unexpected email, phone call or letter requesting payment or personal information.”
Western Union reached the settlement with West Virginia, 48 other states and the District of Columbia. It requires the company to develop and implement a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers, who have been the victims of fraud, use Western Union to wire money to scam artists.
Such schemes involve lottery and contest scams, grandparent scams and tax scams, all of which have been the subject of alerts issued by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
That anti-fraud program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:
Anti-fraud warnings on forms consumers use to wire money
Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union’s agents about fraud-induced wire transfers
Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints
Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers
Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers
Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures
Western Union will pay the consumer refunds as part of a $586 million fund administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. Separately, the company will pay states and the District of Columbia $5 million to cover costs and fees.
More information about this settlement is available at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-mlars/remission.
Submitted by the office of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.