TOPEKA — The Kansas Attorney General’s Office is mailing notices to nearly 25,000 Kansans who may be eligible for a refund of money they sent by wire transfer to scammers, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.
In 2017, law enforcement officials entered into a settlement with Western Union, which was accused of knowingly allowing its wire-transfer services to be used by scammers to defraud people. As part of the settlement, Western Union set aside $586 million to pay claims from people who lost money to scammers and transmitted the lost funds by Western Union wire transfer. However, to receive a refund, Kansans who have been scammed and qualify for a refund must file a claim with Western Union before May 31, 2018.
“To get their money back, Kansans who were scammed and who qualify for these refunds must file a claim,” Schmidt said. “We are concerned many Kansans who might be eligible do not know about this extraordinary opportunity. So we are taking the unusual step of directly notifying many Kansans who sent funds by Western Union during the past few years that, if their wire transfer involved funds lost to a scam, they should file a claim and get their money back.”
The problem, Schmidt said, is that there is no list of people who were scammed and may be eligible for the refunds. People who filed complaints about the scam with a federal agency such as the Federal Trade Commission already should have been notified, but many people who are scammed do not file reports with federal agencies or with other law enforcement.
So, working with Western Union, the Attorney General’s Office is mailing direct notices of the refund opportunity to Kansans who wired $1,500 or more via Western Union in recent years. Kansans who wired $500 or more to one of 20 countries considered to be high-risk for scams also will receive the notice.
“We know many of the Kansans who receive our letter in fact wired funds to legitimate places for legitimate purposes,” Schmidt said. “But we have to cast the net wide and notify many in the hope that we will reach at least some who were scammed and can benefit from claiming a refund.”
Schmidt said the Iowa attorney general’s office took a similar step that resulted in more Iowans obtaining refunds.
To be eligible for a refund, fraud must have been involved in the transaction, and the wire transfer must have occurred between January 1, 2004, and January 19, 2017.
Schmidt said any Kansans who have been scammed and may qualify for a refund, whether or not they receive the Attorney General’s notice by mail, may file for a refund. He said the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division will assist Kansans who have questions or who need help with claiming a refund. The Consumer Protection Division can be contacted at 800-432-2310 or at CProtect@ag.ks.gov. For more information, visit www.InYourCornerKansas.org.
“I hope Kansans who lost money to grandparent scams, romance scams, IRS scams, debt-forgiveness scams, or any of the countless other rip-offs that make their way around the state, and who transferred money to the scammer by Western Union wire transfer between the qualifying dates, will take advantage of this opportunity and file a claim to get their money back,” Schmidt said. “And I hope Kansans will spread the word about this opportunity.”
A copy of the notice being sent to about 25,000 Kansas households is available http://bit.ly/2GV3qBE.