August 14, 2023

Western Union

Fraud Types

While the internet has connected us to more information than ever, today’s digital age has made it easier for scammers to perpetrate their fraudulent activity. From faux social media postings to password phishing for financial accounts, scammers have found countless ways to get their hands on other peoples’ money. They use any means to contact victims—telephone, snail mail, email, and the Internet. They gain your trust and when they have you hooked, they ask you for money; then they take it and run. The scenarios they use to lure you in change, constantly. But you can protect yourself and your friends and family by arming yourself with knowledge of the most common types of fraud.

Types of Scams

Advanced Fee / Prepayment scam

Victim is asked to pay upfront fees for financial services which are never provided. Victims often send a succession of transactions for payment of various upfront fees. Common methods could include: credit card, grants, loans, inheritance, or investment.

Associated with: Taxes, Telemarketing, Immigration, Charity, Social Networking, Fake Check, Emergency, Grandparent

Anti-Virus scam

Victim is contacted by someone claiming they are from a well-known computer or software company and a virus has been detected on the victim’s computer. The victim is advised that the virus can be removed and the computer protected for a small fee with a payment by either credit card or a money transfer. In reality, there was no virus on the computer and the victim has just lost the money they sent for the protection.

Associated with: Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Identity Theft, Phishing

Charity scam

The victim is often contacted by email, mail or phone by someone asking for a donation to be sent by money transfer to an individual to help victims of a recent current event, such as a disaster or emergency (such as a flood, cyclone, or earthquake). Legitimate charity organizations will never ask for donations to be sent to an individual through a money transfer service.

Associated with: Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Phishing, SMS/Smishing

Emergency scam

Victim is led to believe that they are sending funds to assist a friend or loved one in urgent need. Victim sends the money with urgency as the victim’s natural concern for a loved one is exploited.

Associated with: Grandparent, Advanced Fee/Prepayment

Employment scam

Victim responds to a job posting and is hired for the fictitious job and sent a fake check for job related expenses. Check amount exceeds the victim’s expenses and victim sends remaining funds back using a money transfer. The check bounces and the victim is responsible for the full amount.

Associated with: Mystery Shopping, Fake Check


Threats to life, arrest or other demands by scammers to unlawfully obtain money, property or services from a victim through coercion that they supposedly owe and threatens if they do not cooperate.

Associated with: Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Relationship, Immigration, Tax, Emergency, Anti-Virus, Phishing

Fake Check scam

Victims are often sent a check as a part of a scam and told to deposit the check and use the funds for employment expenses, internet purchases, mystery shopping, etc. The check is fake (counterfeit), and the victim is left responsible for any funds used from the check. Remember, funds from a check deposited into an account should not be used until the check officially clears which can take weeks.

Associated with: Advance Fee/Prepayment, Mystery Shopping, Employment, Overpayment, Internet Purchase, Lottery/Prize, Rental Property

Grandparent scam

This scam is a variation on the Emergency scam. The victim is contacted by an individual pretending to be a grandchild in distress, or a person of authority such as a medical professional, law enforcement officer, or attorney. The fraudster describes an urgent situation or emergency (bail, medical expenses, emergency travel funds) involving the grandchild that requires a money transfer to be sent immediately. No emergency has occurred, and the victim who sent money to help their grandchild has lost their money.

Associated with: Advanced Fee/Prepayment, Emergency

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