Deadline Approaching For Delaware Scam Victims Who Used Western Union To Claim Repayments

Delaware consumers who used Western Union from 2004 to 2017 to send money to scammers and lost their money are reminded they have a month to file a claim to get their money back under a legal settlement.

Under a settlement between Western Union and state attorneys general, including Delaware, anyone who was tricked by scammers into sending money by Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 can go to www.ftc.gov/WU before February 12, 2018.

Some people who have already reported their losses to Western Union, the Federal Trade Commission, or another government agency will receive a form in the mail from the claims administrator, Gilardi & Co. The form will have a Claim ID and a PIN number to use when filing a claim online via FTC.gov/WU. Gilardi was hired by Justice Department, which is responsible for returning victims’ money as part of its settlement with Western Union.

Filing a claim is free, so consumers should not pay anyone to file a claim on their behalf. No one associated with the claims process will ever call to ask for consumers’ bank account or credit card number. If you lost or did not receive a claim form, there is also a link on www.ftc.gov/WU which will enable you to file.

The attached graphic from the FTC is a simple explanation of the claims process.

The settlement with Western Union came after state and federal consumer protection agencies alleged that fraudsters were able to use Western Union’s money transfer system to get payments from their victims, even though the company was aware of the problem and received hundreds of thousands of complaints about fraud-induced money transfers made for fraudulent lottery and prizes, family emergencies, advance-fee loans, online dating and other scams. The settlement announced in January 2017 required $586 million from Western Union to repay consumers, and required Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers wire money to scam artists.

Previous Announcements from the Delaware Department of Justice regarding the settlement and claims process can be found at https://news.delaware.gov/2017/01/31/wu/ and https://news.delaware.gov/2017/11/13/wus/.


Contractor Arrested for Defrauding Senior Citizen

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit announced a Delaware City-based contractor faces criminal charges for defrauding a 72-year-old New Castle County homeowner. James Small, 31, was arrested on one count of Home Improvement Fraud, but Department of Justice officials believe he may have more victims.

New Castle County Police received a complaint from a woman believing she was caught in a home improvement scheme. Throughout January 2016, the alleged victim paid Small over $17,000 for home improvements. Work performed included minor spackling and tearing up master bedroom flooring, but ultimately police and CPU believe Small stopped showing up at the work site and the work was never substantially completed.

The investigation revealed that Small, soliciting work by going door-to-door, convinced the victim to pay him $500 up-front. The victim subsequently provided him checks for $1000, $500, $1000, $12,500, and $2,500 over the course of January 2016. At one point, Small accompanied the alleged victim to her bank in order to make a large cash withdraw.

“Delawareans, especially our senior citizens, need to be alert to home improvement scams, and help avoid them by making sure that contractors are bonded and maintain any required licenses for mechanical work,” said Attorney General Matt Denn.  “It’s also important to follow up on references, talk to friends and neighbors about a contractor’s reputation, and never pay for work up front.”

Additional alleged victims have been identified by the Consumer Protection Unit, and the office urges other consumers, who between 2012 and the present, may have been victimized by Small or have information to share with authorities, to contact Special Investigator Robert Schreiber in the Consumer Protection Unit at (302) 577-5183.

If any consumer suspects they are a home improvement fraud victim, they should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-220-5424.