AUGUSTA — Mainers who were scammed out of money by wiring Western Union payments may be eligible for some restitution, according to Attorney General Janet Mills’ office.

Under a recent settlement with the federal government, consumers scammed out of money by wiring through Western Union between between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, may be eligible.

The Federal Trade Commission in January announced a settlement with Western Union that requires Western Union to return $586 million through a claims-settlement process to consumers.

For years, Western Union ignored thousands of complaints from consumers about money transfers made for fraudulent lottery and prizes, the grandparent scam, advance fee loan payments, online dating and IRS scams, among others, Mills said.

“I ask all Mainers who have been scammed out of money and were asked to use Western Union to contact my office so we can connect them with the federal agencies managing this claims process,” Mills said in a prepared statement.

Some people may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam — “Don’t be,” Mills said. “You are not alone. Please take this opportunity to be reimbursed.”

Under the settlement, Western Union will have to train and monitor its agents so consumers are protected. It won’t be allowed to transmit money transfers that it knows — or should know — are fraudulent, Mills said.

It will have to block money transfers to anyone who has a fraud report, making it easier for people to report fraud, give clear warnings to people wiring money, and refund a fraud-related money transfer if the company didn’t comply with its own anti-fraud procedures.

To get money back that was stolen through a scam using Western Union, consumers must provide basic contact information, dates and amounts of the transactions. The Maine AG’s office will provide that information to the federal agency administering the claims process.

The email address is [email protected] You may also call 207-626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131.

The deadline is Friday, April 7.

It’s a scam when: Telemarketers ask money be wired

It’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask consumers to pay for anything with a money transfer, according to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.

Scammers love using money transfer services, she said, because once the money is sent, it’s gone forever.

If a telemarketer asks you to wire money, “already you know they’re a crook,” Mills said.


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