Thousands of money transfers happen every day. However, sometimes the recipient isn’t a trusted friend or family. It could also be a scammer. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 3 million money transfer scams in 2018 alone.
While money transfers can help you rescue people financially, they have also become a hot spot for theft and fraud. Money transfer scams are common because the process works fast. By the time you understand the scam, it’s too late to recover the money.
To help you steer clear of risks, keep reading to familiarize yourself with the most common money transfer scams.
FAKE BUYERS’ SCAMS
Scammers scan through various classified ads on the internet and newspapers and get in touch with you as interested buyers. In most cases, they do not bargain and send you a check for more than the asking price.
Then they ask you to wire the extra amount to a third-party account. It is only after you transfer the money you realize that you put a fake check in your bank. In 2018, Americans lost $3.7 million to fake check scams.
How to avoid the scam:
- Try to only make a deal in person with a local buyer
- Do not accept checks of excessive amounts
- You could ask them to cancel this check and write a new one for the exact amount
- In case you need to send any refund, only make the transfers after your bank clears the check
FAKE SELLERS’ SCAMS
Cheaters advertise high-end items such as cars, designer products and imported goods at attractive prices online. Upon enquiring, you may find the offer authentic. However, they will ask you to wire transfer the money in advance.
They would mitigate any other payment options and confirm your order only upon receipt of the payment. However, after the payment is done, you are blocked. These shop-at-home scams caused a total loss of $2.1 million in 2018.
- Buy from local and trustworthy sellers
- Go for check or cash on delivery payments
- Refuse to wire money if they insist
FRAUDULENT PRIZES, LOTTERIES, AND SWEEPSTAKES
You may think you have hit the jackpot, but this could be yet another trap. A mystery prize is not always a pleasant surprise, especially if it comes with an exorbitant processing fee and random taxes.
These scammers may reach out via a phone call or a mail. Most of the calls have a foreign country code. If the email or the letter you have received has way too many typos, be assured it wasn’t written by a professional or legal authority.
- Never transfer money to anyone who sends you a letter or an email regarding a lottery or game you never even applied for
- Even if you have applied, it is always best to check the credentials and ask for documented proofs
A DISTRESSED RELATIVE
A frantic phone call, social media message, or email where a relative requests financial help by wire transfer is another common scam trick. They might tell you that they are sick or have been arrested in a foreign country. In 2017, Americans lost $328 million to such scams whereby swindlers tricked them by pretending to be a loved one in trouble.
- Call and confirm with your relative to verify any story
- Ask other relatives if they have received any such information
- If no one can validate the story, do not send any money
Without considering your credit history, scammers offer loans and credit cards with significant benefits. There is only one condition they put forth: you must wire transfer the loan processing fee. This scam is perhaps the most dangerous of them all because they will not stop at looting your money once. They pose a future threat given they have your bank account details.
- Always double check the loan offers with your regular bank
- Take note: all such fees are paid after the loan proceedings and not in advance
MYSTERY SHOPPING JOBS
Luxury brands often hire secret shoppers and give them products to review. Scammers try and replicate the format but in fake mystery shopping jobs where you would be required to pay a registration fee through a bogus webpage via money transfer. Later they may even ask you to pay for the products from your own account.
- Never accept a mystery shopping job that requires a registration fee
- Don’t accept a position where you pay for goods from your own bank account
FUND TRANSFER SCAMS FROM NIGERIA
A Nigerian royal family member is in great distress and needs YOUR help. Over the past three years, Nigerian letter-style scams have cost victims an average of $2,133.
- The very format of this letter is a sham and should be ignored
- Never send money or personal information to a stranger, no matter how good the offer
THE MTCN NUMBER
You have initiated a transfer to send money back at home. However, you receive a call from “your bank” or “the wire transfer provider”, and they need your MTCN to confirm the transaction. The Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) is a unique code assigned to every transaction that occurs. If a scammer gets ahold of the MTCN, they could hijack the loop and steal the cash.
- No bank or institution would ever ask for sensitive information on a haste call
- Never share personal information or passwords to anyone on your phone, chat, or emails
Transferring money is normally a quick and reliable operation, just make sure you never wire transfer any money to strangers. If you anything about a process doesn’t feel quite right, stop and do your research.
Whether going online for more information or talking to an expert, take the steps to thwart an enterprising scammer trying to part you from your hard-earned money.