HARRISONBURG, PA -- Many times, 2 Wants to Know brings you consumer alerts about schemes or fraud that could be coming your way. Not today! Today, U.S. Postal Inspectors share the story of a bit of justice for some scheme victims! Millions of dollars are being returned to people who thought they lost it all.
Postal Inspectors say Wanda Wood was the victim of a grandparent scheme. "One morning, I answered the phone and this a young fella said 'hi grandma'..." She said the voice sounded like her grandson, Matt. She became concerned when he said he was in Canada and needed $4,500 wired to him immediately.
She wired the money via Moneygram, but con artists intercepted it along with funds sent by hundreds of others targeted in the scheme.
The Justice Department found Moneygram in violation of processing thousands of transactions for individuals known to be involved in schemes.
Postal inspector Nick Alicea said, "The corrupt agents converted the money transfers to cash in a manner that maintained the anonymity of fraudsters."
Moneygram profited from the scheme by collecting fees and other revenues on the fraudulent transactions. Schemes included "the grandparent scheme" that lured in Wanda, as well as secret shopper scheme and sweepstakes or lottery schemes.
Don Golden's mother lost $60,000 and came close to losing her home. Golden said, "She decided that she didn't have the money to pay her school taxes because she was putting all of her money in this sweepstakes activity."
Moneygram agreed to pay $100 million for its role in the scam between 2004 and 2009.
Golden said, "This in my mind is a milestone day because we are seeing some justice for my mother and my family."
Postal inspectors will distribute $46 million to almost 18,000 victims or family members of these fraud victims across the country.
Victims are grateful. But-for many-their experience has taken its toll. Fraud victim Karen Luther said, "It will never give back what I've been through. Because it tore my world apart... it really did..."
Remember, never send money to someone unless you're positive of their identity. If they call claiming to be a relative, hang up and call that relative directly. Do not send money if you're not sure.
WFMY News 2