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Feds to African immigrants: Western Union might owe you money


Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Western Union customers who might have been victims of scams are now eligible to file claims through February 12, 2018 following a $586 million settlement in January between Western Union and 50 attorney generals. The settlement covers frauds that happened between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 and you do not need to be a US citizen to file a claim.

“American consumers lost money while Western Union looked the other way,” Acting Federal Trade Commission Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen said in a news release last week in a push to encourage the public to file claims as the deadline approaches.

“Because they chose to ignore the problem instead of implementing policies and procedures to better protect consumers, they are now having to reimburse consumers for these losses.”

During a conference call with reporters last Thursday (Dec. 7), Todd Kossow, Director for the Federal Trade Commission’s Midwest region said “If someone sent a money transfer through Western Union and they lost money to a scam, then they’re eligible to ask for their money back.”

Kossow said Western Union did not do enough to protect the public from fraud and “didn’t properly discipline agents that were facilitating the fraud.”

Important things to know: Even if you do not have the paperwork to prove you were scammed, the Federal Trade Commission is urging you to still file a claim.

You can also file even if you do not have a social security number.

How to file a claim (on the legitimate website):

Go here: https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/western-union-settlement-faqs

Remittances to Africa from its global diaspora amounted to $39 billion last year according to the World Bank. Those sending money to Africa through services such as Western Union and MoneyGram incur the most cost at roughly 10 per cent per $200 according to the World Bank.

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About Tom Gitaa

Tom is the President and Publisher of Mshale. As the founder, he did a lot of the reporting during the humble beginnings of the newspaper. While he still does the occasional reporting, he now concentrates on the publishing side of the news operation.Tom was also the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dishnetwork satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states such as the president of  The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at State House, Banjul. Tom has previously served in the board of directors of the Minnesota International Center (MIC), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has also previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa. He sits on the board of the United Nations Association.

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