The Federal Government is going after a company that is often used by known scammers. The company is MoneyGram. This comes after a $100-million settlement with the company. The Justice Department targeted the company when they found them in violation of processing thousands of transactions for individuals known to be involved in scams.
Around $43 million has already been paid out to individuals who were victims between 2004 and 2009. Many of those victims are live in Jacksonville and have received payments from the settlement.
Bob Christopher lives in the Glynlea area. He was scammed out of more than $3,000 years ago in what's called the “Grandparents Scam”. Somone impersonated his grandson and called him pretending to be in a Canadian jail.
They conned Christopher into getting a MoneyGram from the Walmart at Beach and Southside Boulevard and mailing it to him. Turned out it wasn't his grandson.
“We was shook up about it and thought it was true and we went to the bank got the money out and went to Walmart to MoneyGram and mailed it to them,” Christopher said.
After he discovered it was a scam he tried to contact police for help in both Jacksonville and Canada.
“Called Royal Canadian Mounted Police and they couldn't do anything. I told them what we did and asked if anyone could pick it up because they gave us a tracking number,” Christopher said.
Recently Christopher received a settlement payment of around $1,100.
Another victim locally was in Mandarin. Natalie Cross attempted to buy a vehicle off Craigslist in 2007, when the site was still relatively new. It turned out to be a scam and she and her family lost thousands of dollars after selling their family vehicle because they thought they were getting a new one.
They paid for the nonexistent car with a MoneyGram.
“At the time I had three children and that was our family vehicle, so we had no way to get around and transport the children,” Cross explained.
The Federal Government decided to go after MoneyGram instead of the fraudsters because the Feds claimed MoneyGram knew the recipients of money were known scammers.
“The corrupt agents converted the money transfers to cash in a manner that maintained the anonymity of fraudsters,” said Nick Alicea, a U.S. Postal Inspector.
"I'm pleasantly surprised they're doing something and trying to monitor," said Channel 4 Crime and Safety Analyst Ken Jefferson.
Jefferson says he was surprised and happy to see the feds go after MoneyGram, but he wants to caution people that this doesn't mean these scammers won't find another avenue to take advantage of you, if MoneygGam's not an option.
"There should always be apprehension when someone is calling you and asking for money, unless it's a relative who does it all the time, you should still try and verify that is an actual person," warned Jefferson.
The Department of Justice says if you believe you are an eligible victim you may call one of the following numbers and provide your contact information:
- Toll-free number (United States Only): 877-282-2610
- Toll number (International): 317-324-0390