Janelle has 6 years of experience working in the travel industry as a digital marketer, with the last two specialising in Travel Money. Coming from a background of Journalism and English, Janelle enjoys writing copy for blogs, websites and social media, and has written guest posts for both Cruiseabout and Travel Money NZ.
Vulnerable Kiwis are losing millions of dollars each year to various scams, and unfortunately, sometimes people try to use the MoneyGram money transfer service as part of those scams, by telling fake stories that try to get you to send them money.
We would hate for that to happen to you, and our FXperts are always on the lookout for new scams so that we can protect our customers.
But, to help you protect yourself, we wanted to let you know what scams we commonly see using the MoneyGram service so that you are more aware and can avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
Online Purchase Scams
Did you find a great deal for a car on TradeMe? Or maybe you found the cutest puppy for sale online? But, the seller has asked for a deposit to be paid by money transfer. This is most likely a scam – you send the money (which once sent, you can’t recover), but you never see that car or that puppy, or whatever else you may have purchased online.
Online Dating Scams
We’re a sucker for romance as much as the next person, and in this day and age, it is so common to meet someone online. But unfortunately, an internet romance is also a common way for scam artists to find their next victim.
If you have met someone online, and have not yet met face-to-face, be careful if they ask you to send them money. Some of the telltale signs you can look out for include:
- They ask you to send them money for travel-related expenses to meet you
- They (too) quickly profess very strong feelings for you, without meeting first
- Their webcam or Skype never seems to be working, so you haven’t seen more than their profile picture yet
“Congratulations! You have won $5 million in the Facebook Lottery!”
First of all, there is no such thing as a Facebook lottery. Second of all, if you don’t remember entering the competition or buying that Lotto ticket, then you probably didn’t. Thirdly, if you have to send money anywhere to claim your prize, then it’s most likely a scam.
This scam is pretty common over email and you’ll generally be asked to transfer some money to pay taxes or custom fees for your prize, or you’ll be asked for your bank details so they can send the money to you.
Person in Need Scam
This scam is done in a number of different ways. Sometimes a “lawyer” or a “police officer” calls you to say they are with a relative of yours who is in trouble – they have been detained overseas, have been in a car accident or have a fine to pay – and they need financial assistance. Or, a stranger contacts you and tells you they have been robbed and they need money sent to them to pay for bills or to get home.
Whatever the situation, it is designed to make you feel the person is desperate - they want to get you to send them money without you overthinking it. Because once you do think about it, you’ll realise that it's most likely a trick.
Disaster Relief Scams
During times of floods, earthquakes and other disasters, people sometimes try to take advantage of those that want to help out. A common ruse is one where a “charity” asks you to send money towards disaster relief, but the money never gets anywhere near the disaster victims.
Protecting Yourself Against Scammers
When using the MoneyGram money transfer services, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you don’t fall victim to a scam:
- Never send money to a stranger! That includes paying someone for an internet purchase, or an online love interest you have not yet met. Always know who you are sending money to and where it is going
- Never send money to receive money
- Never send money to receive a prize or for an offer of employment
- Keep your transaction information confidential
- Be suspicious of cheap, "too good to be true" deals
- Keep your personal information confidential (your passport number, bank account details, drivers licence number, mobile phone number etc) when communicating online
At Travel Money NZ, our FXperts are trained in what to look out for and how to identify scams, so when you’re processing your money transfer, they may ask questions like who you’re sending the money to and why. They’re not being nosy. They’re just trying to protect you.
But, sometimes, despite all efforts and best intentions, people do fall for scams. There are a few things you should do if this happens to be you:
- Stop communicating with the scammer and ignore any further attempts at communication from them. Block their phone number or email address
- Report the scam to MoneyGram and your bank to inform them of what has happened
- Report the scam to Netsafe who can provide you with online safety help, support and expertise. You can report it online at https://www.netsafe.org.nz/report
- If need be, change any personal details you may have shared with the scammer – cancel your bank cards, change your passwords, and so on
- If you suspect a scam, but the money transfer hasn’t yet gone through, call the MoneyGram Customer Care Centre on 0800 161 838 to have the transfer cancelled immediately
These are by no means all of the fake stories that get used by scam artists, but hopefully by being more aware of how scammers try to take advantage of people and misuse the MoneyGram money transfer service, you will be able to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.
When you are online, be aware of who you share your financial or personal details with, and stick with the basic rule when it comes to money transfer services – never send money to a stranger!
This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.