Social Engineers, After Your Cash and Good Cheer

This holiday season, don’t allow the impulse to please your loved ones with special gifts get the better of you. Scammers are always poised to act when people are vulnerable, so beware when finding items online that are below the market price or are of limited quantities for hard to find items.

Scam artists socially engineer their victims, first by gaining their trust. They do everything possible to build a relationship with their victims so victims won’t question their motivations. They use a number of techniques to make the

holiday shopping 150x150 Social Engineers, After Your Cash and Good Cheer

mselves look credible. With the Internet purchase scam, for example, they may offer all manner of guarantees and protections. But their aim will be to try to get their victims to send money before they think.

Western Union’s money transfer service is a great way to send money quickly and conveniently to friends and loved ones, whether it’s around the corner or around the world — via more than half a million locations in 200 countries and territories. But our service is not intended for use when doing business with someone you have not met face-to-face. Our send

Western Union does not offer an escrow service. We cannot guarantee the receipt or quality of any goods or services an individual may purchase using our money transfer service as a payment method. It is important to remember that a money transfer transaction can be paid out to the receiver within a short time—even minutes—and after the money is paid, the money is gone.forms specifically warn consumers “Only send money to someone you have met in person.”

In the Internet purchase scam, buyers are told the seller only accepts money transfers for payment. The ‘seller’ tells the buyer to put the transaction in a fictitious name, falsely convincing the victim this protects their money until the goods or services are received. But the ‘seller’ retrieves the funds, and the merchandise never arrives.

The Internet also exposes sellers to potential fraud. With overpayment scams, fraudsters play the “buyer” and send the seller a legitimate-looking check, usually drawn on a well-known bank, for an amount higher than the agreed-upon price. They concoct an explanation for this overpayment and instruct the seller to deposit the check and wire back the excess funds. The victim later learns the check is fake, but is still on the hook to pay the bank back for any money withdrawn.

Western Union and BBB launched BBB Scam Stopper to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of common scams like the Internet purchase scam. On the site, visitors can sign up to receive BBB Scam Alerts, weekly emails with details on the latest scams reported to BBBs across North America.

Consumers are the first, last and best line of defense against fraud. Don’t use a money transfer service to pay for a product you haven’t actually seen, from an individual you have never met in person.

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About Shelley Bernhardt

Shelley Bernhardt is the Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union, a BBB Accredited Business and National Partner. She is responsible for External Stakeholder Outreach and Consumer Fraud Awareness and Education for Western Union Agents and consumers. Shelley serves on advisory boards for the National Adult Protective Services Association, the National Consumers League LifeSmarts program and Call for Action.