Western Union and its customers are popular targets for con artists. In the recent FTC report, all customers who, between January 1, 2004, and January 19, 2017, were scammed through a Western Union wire transfer can file a claim. They must do this by August 31, 2022. This is part of a settlement whereby Western Union will shell out $586 million to refund money stolen from its clients.
Promises of loans, jobs, discounts on quality products, financial rewards, and large winnings are some of the fraudsters’ most frequent and effective scams. They are good communicators and easily get their victims to send money in exchange for whatever they promise. One of the most popular tools for their scams is the fake money order from Western Union.
Western Union customers use money orders to make quick and safe transfers. Although these transactions are processed quickly, they’re not totally secure against fraud. In this guide, you will learn more about money orders, including how the fake money order Western Union works and tips on how to avoid the scam.
Western Union Money Orders
Western Union is the world’s largest and one of the most popular international money transfer service providers. The company that started as a telegraph business 171 years ago is now a global leader in money transfer and serves millions of people. Currently, the company has over 525,000 branches in 200 countries that offer the following services:
- Money Transfer (Mobile and Bank)
- Convenience Pay
- Prepaid Cards
- Bills Payment
- WU Reload and
- Money Order
A money order is a prepaid paper check and an easy alternative to cash. Many people use money orders because they are widely accepted for sending and receiving funds. A Western Union money order is a simple, modern, and reliable way to send cash in person or by mail. Aside from the fact that money orders are easy to get, they do not require the customer to have a bank account.
Where Can I Get One?
You can buy a money order at select banks, retailers, check-cashing stores, payday loan stores, or the United States Postal Service (USPS). To purchase a Western Union money order, visit their official website and check any participating agent location in your area. A money order is a guaranteed payment, unlike checks that sometimes bounce when cashed, as, with this service, you pay in advance.
How Does It Work?
Here is how you can successfully use a money order from Western Union.
- Give the amount of money you want to send to the teller and pay the service fee.
- Get the money order from the teller. Before filling in the form, ensure that you have the essential details to complete the transaction, such as:
- The recipient’s name
- Your complete address and
- Reason for payment
- In the “PAY TO ORDER OF” field, enter the business name or person you’re sending the money to.
- Write your information in the “PURCHASER” field. Take note that in some forms, it’s written as “Sender,” “From,” or “Remitter.”
- Sign the front of the form.
- Review all the information and take the order receipt and keep it as your proof of purchase. This is especially important if you ever need to report it as lost or stolen.
- Send or give the money order. You can track it on the Western Union website if needed.
Cashing money orders is effortless too. First, the recipient needs to sign the back of the form. Then, they must go to their bank and deposit the funds or go to retailers and Western Union branches to exchange the check for cash.
Fake Money Order Western Union Fraud
Money orders are susceptible to fraud. Scammers can easily get a copy online, forge and use it to scam innocent people. While most victims are online sellers and landlords, anyone can be a victim of scammers. One way to avoid this type of scam and theft is to know how professional fraudsters do it.
Online Purchase Scam
There are three ways online shopping fraud is committed, and the first is impersonating a seller. In this method, scammers ensure that their page and products look legit, then tell their victim to pay with a money order. After the buyer sends the money, they do not receive the product.
Scammers have two options if they want to perform fake money order Western Union fraud.
- They act as a genuine buyer and purchase products that are easy to resell, like mobile phones and electronic devices. Usually, they tell the sellers to ship them to a particular PO box to hide their actual address. Instead of paying with real money, the scammer pays with a fake money order. The product is already delivered when the seller gets a notification that it’s fake.
- The scammer pays for the product in advance and talks to the seller like a legitimate buyer. However, before the seller can ship the order, they will cancel it, saying they need the money, and the reason is usually financial distress.
Then, they will make a deal with the seller to reduce their fee as compensation for the inconvenience they have caused, and the seller will return the remaining money to them immediately. Because the seller is in a hurry, they forget to check the legitimacy of the money order. Also read about Westen Union carding method.
Rental Property Scam
People with a house, vacation home, bed-and-breakfast room, or apartment units for rent are the victims of this fake money order Western Union fraud. Instead of a buyer, the scammer will pose as a tenant and send a fake money order to pay the total rent plus down payments and a non-refundable security deposit. A few days later, the landlord will receive a cancellation from the fraudster, who will request they send back all the refundable cash.
This type is also known as an “excess scam,” where the fraudsters purchase an item online and pay with fake money order using Western Union. It’s similar to the previous scams, but the fraudster sends money that’s far higher than the total price of the product. Once the seller receives the money order, the fraudsters will create different scenarios such as:
- They accidentally wrote and told the teller the wrong amount to send
- The person they instructed to pay put the wrong amount or
- They intentionally give too much to buy other products
After ordering, the scammer will tell the seller to wire transfer or deposit the excess money to their account. This type of fake money order fraud is widespread, but many people still become a victim, especially those who deposit funds into their bank accounts.
Money order deposits usually take three or more banking days to clear. Scammers want to rush their victims to return the money because they can’t immediately detect that the money order is fake.
Scammers use various methods to commit fraud with this scam. First, they will pretend they don’t have a bank account for whatever reason. Then, they will act nicely to get a victim to deposit a fake money order on their behalf and give them money. But since many people have cottoned on to this scheme, ingenious fraudsters are starting to take a different approach.
A fraudster gets their next victim by posting a job ad called “funds administrator” or someone responsible for depositing money orders and transferring the money to another person. At first, the transactions are genuine, and the victim gets paid. But once they have gained the victim’s trust, they will send them a fake money order with a large amount. This way, the victim will not suspect anything and will send the money immediately.
Even today, there are still many victims of lottery or prize scams globally. In this scam, the scammers will call and tell the victim that they won the lottery, raffle, or sweepstakes and send a money order. They will then instruct the victim to deposit the money into their bank account and immediately wire a portion of it back to pay processing fees or taxes. After a few days or weeks, the victim will find out that the money order is fake.
Tips to Prevent Being Scammed
It can take days to weeks for banks and Western Union to detect fraud depending on how similar the counterfeit is to the original. Because of modern technology, anyone can create these fakes at home, so it’s easy for fraudsters to perform this scam. The steps required to replicate money orders perfectly are still unknown, but here is the most effective method in avoiding fake money order Western Union fraud.
- If you regularly use money orders, you can quickly tell the difference between a fake and an original. If the color is lighter or darker, has a different texture, and is thinner or thicker than usual, it is fake.
- Check the printed amount. The maximum amount you can send using a Western Union money order is $1,000. Also, if you notice discoloration, it’s a sign that someone erased and edited the original figures.
- Look for a unique watermark and heat-sensitive inlays of the Western Union logo. These are not available online and are not easy to copy, but if you’re unfamiliar with these features, you can go to the nearest Western Union branch and let an employee check it.
- If you’re suspicious of the sender, you must verify the funds before depositing them in your bank. Use the 11-digit serial number at the upper right corner of the money order and confirm the transaction with Western Union.
- If you’re a seller, be careful about performing transactions with people who rush you or make an advance payment, especially if it’s an overpayment.
- You can also look for another payment method for your business. The more payment options you have, the more easily you can avoid money order fraud, and it will also help you attract more customers who don’t use money orders.
- Deposit the money immediately and wait for it to be clear before processing refunds or spending it.
- Record all the money order deposits and receipts as evidence. These documents will help you file a complaint if the buyer is a scammer.
Final Words on Fake Money Order Western Union
In this day and age, fraudsters never miss an opportunity to steal money. These people take the hard-earned money of those who follow the rules. In this article, you learned about the most common type of fake money order Western Union fraud prevalent in the US and worldwide.
Through this, you’ll be more aware of the situation and have a better chance of avoiding scams. Always be careful when answering calls or emails. If you have had any interaction with a scammer, no matter how much money is involved, report it to Western Union and the police immediately.