Company will forfeit $586 million to compensate victims of fraud and implement anti-fraud programs to protect seniors
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Bob Casey, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, applauded the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Department of Justice’s announcement of a settlement with Western Union in which the company admits to criminal anti-money laundering violations that have negatively and disproportionately affected aging Americans.
“This is an encouraging development for America’s seniors and individuals across the country who have been negatively impacted by Western Union’s longstanding failure to protect consumers with proper anti-money laundering and wire fraud programs,” Chairman Susan Collins said. “Americans have long been aware of ‘Grandparent Scams’ that encourage victims to transfer funds to fake family members allegedly in need of assistance. Our committee has worked to shine a spotlight on these criminals, and today’s action by the FTC and DOJ will help bring protections and restitution for innocent victims. We must continue to be vigilant in finding ways to prevent these scams in the future.”
“Protecting seniors will remain one of my top priorities in my new role on the Senate Aging Committee,” Ranking Member Bob Casey said. “Far too often, criminals target our hardest and longest working friends, family, and neighbors who have saved their whole lives for retirement. When we protect aging Americans, many on fixed incomes who have been spent their lives as active community members, we are better living up to our values as a nation. This is an important step by the FTC toward improving a system that easily lends itself to fraud. Additionally, I applaud the U.S. Attorney’s Offices of the Middle District of Pennsylvania for taking part in the agreement to help protect Pennsylvania’s seniors and seniors across the country from this kind of abuse.”
The announced settlement puts in place protections that prohibit Western Union from transmitting money that it believes is rooted in fraud. In some cases, Western Union employees were directly responsible and aided in the fraud by willfully ignoring warning signs. The $586 million will be used to compensate victims of fraud where Western Union agents were complicit in the scams.
The FTC receives thousands of complaints from individuals receiving impersonation attempts a year totaling millions of dollars of losses. Individuals who believe that they or another senior has been a victim of fraud can report a complaint by reaching the Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.