August 14, 2023

Western Union Scams

Identity Theft

Identity thieves use personal information (e.g., Social Security numbers, bank account information and credit card numbers) to pose as another individual. This may include opening a credit account, draining an existing account, filing tax returns or obtaining medical coverage.

Associated with: Internet Purchase, Phishing, SMS/Smishing, Social Networking, Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Immigration, Taxes, Employment, Anti-Virus, Relationship

Immigration scam

Victim receives a call from someone claiming to be an immigration official saying there is a problem with the victim’s immigration record. Personal information and sensitive details related to the victim’s immigration status may be provided to make the story seem more legitimate. Immediate payment is demanded to fix any issues with the victim’s record and deportation or imprisonment may be threatened if payment is not made immediately by money transfer.

Associated with: Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Overpayment, Emergency

Internet Purchase scam

The victim sends money for the purchase of item ordered online (e.g. pets, cars). Items are often advertised on Craigslist, eBay, Alibaba, etc. After the money is sent, the victim never receives the merchandise.

Associated with: Overpayment, Rental Property, Fake Check

Lottery / Prize scam

Victim is told that they have won a lottery, prize or sweepstakes and that money must be sent to cover the taxes or fees on the winnings. The victim may receive a check for part of the winnings and once the check is deposited and money is sent, the check bounces.

Associated with: Advance Fee/Prepayment, Fake Check

Money-Flipping scam

Social media is being used to lure new victims into an old get-rich-quick scam where users are advertising ways to turn $100 into $1,000 by “flipping money”. The pitch suggests investors can take advantage of quirks in the monetary system to leverage additional cash and turn a few hundred dollars into thousands. Once con artists have access to the cash, they often block the victim from contacting them via social media or phone number.

Associated with: Social Networking, Advanced Fee/Prepayment


Military service members are an appealing target for scammers for several reasons. They are abusing the wide-spread admiration for the military and posing as service men and women in order to trick people into sending them money.

Associated with: Relationship, Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Emergency, Charity, Employment

Mystery Shopping scam

The fraudster contacts the victim through an employment website, or the victim responds to an ad about an employment opportunity to evaluate a money transfer service. The fraudster often sends the victim a check to deposit and instructs the victim to send a money transfer, keeping a portion of the check for their pay. The victim sends the money, the fraudster picks it up, and when the check bounces the victim is left responsible for the full amount.

Associated with: Fake Check, Employment, Advanced Fee/Prepayment

Overpayment scam

The fraudster sends the victim a check that appears to be valid as payment for a service or product. Typically, the amount of the check exceeds what the victim expects to receive, and the fraudster tells the victim to send the excess back using a money transfer. When the check bounces, the victim is left responsible for the full amount.

Associated with: Internet Purchase, Fake Check, Advanced Fee/Prepayment


Communication impersonating a trustworthy entity, such as a bank or mortgage company, intended to mislead the victim into providing personal information or passwords. A Phish is a fraudulent attempt, usually made through email (although can also be made via phone or text), to steal your personal information or propagate malicious code or software onto your computer.

Associated with: Relationship, Extortion, Emergency, Social Networking, SMS/Smishing

Relationship scam

Victim is led to believe that they have a personal relationship with someone they met online often by social media, in an online forum or on a dating website. The victim is often emotionally invested, often referring to the recipient as a fiancée.

Associated with: Social Networking, Military, Emergency, Extortion

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