Helen Geraghty, Copywriter   20 January 2020

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Money transfer services help people to send money overseas securely. Con artists around the world are using increasingly sophisticated methods to scam people out of money online.

There are several different formulas that scammers frequently use to persuade consumers to part with their hard-earned cash.

Here are some common online scams to help you to protect yourself and your money.

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1. Buyer overpays

This type of scam targets people selling items online. A buyer will click to purchase and then send a cheque for an amount higher than agreed. They contact the seller claiming to have just realised their mistake and for a money transfer for the overpayment.

The seller then transfers the "excess" funds only to find that the cheque they deposited later bounces, leaving them out of pocket.

2. Seller requests wire transfer

Scammers also frequently pose as sellers online, often on auction websites like eBay. Once the auction has ended, the scammer will inform the winning bidder that they only accept payment by money transfer. Once the payment gets through, the buyer never receives the item.

3. Online relationships - romance scams

Social media and online dating websites make it easy to meet people online. But with all the fake profiles that are catfishing victims, it can be challenging to know who you're talking to. Scammers set up fake profiles to catfish victims. Sometimes, they speak with the victim for weeks, months, and even years before asking for money.

The scammer will come up with a made-up reason for urgently needing money. Reasons often include an injury, accident, or sick relative. Ultimately, they ask their "friend" to lend them the money by wire transfer.

4. You've won money

Have you received an email informing you that you've won a lottery or a cash prize, yet you don't remember entering? It's likely a scam.

Victims are asked to transfer funds to cover the processing fees or tax for the winnings. After sending the money transfer, the victim never receives their "prize".

Victims of this scam may also receive a cheque in the post for their winnings, requesting money for the fees or taxes. The cheque will later bounce.

5. A charitable cause

Unfortunately, many scammers know no limits when preying on the emotions of good people. If you receive a letter, email or phone call from a charity requesting a donation by money transfer, then do your research.

Contact the charity directly before parting with any money, as it could be a scam.

6. Employment offers

Another common scam involves con artists advertising (or emailing about) job opportunities that sound too good to be true.

Once someone applies for the job and gets "hired", the scammer sends them a cheque to pay for the job supplies. The cheque later bounces, leaving the victim out of pocket. You may also be asked to send money to cover the cost of recruitment fees or credit checks.

7. Someone needs urgent help

If you receive an urgent email, letter, or phone call from a stranger who needs help, then is on your guard. Some of the stories may sound quite convincing, while others are more farfetched. Some common ones to look out for include:

  • Stranded travellers that need money to get home.
  • Requests from "Nigerian royalty" to help them to recover huge sums of money of which you'll receive a portion.
  • Money requests from people claiming to be long lost relatives of yours

Our tip is - if you've never heard of the person, it's best to ignore the communication.

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Warning signs that could signal a scam

Are you wondering how to keep safe online? Here is what to look out for.

A money transfer is needed very quickly

Scammers will often try to rush victims into making a bad snap decision by creating urgency around their offer or situation.

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Find out how to send money abroad as fast as possible.

You're contacted out of the blue

Were you contacted out of blue about a competition you don't remember entering or a job you never applied for? Then take a minute to consider how these people have got your details and why they've contacted you.

Unprofessional communication

Any official communications from businesses or organisations should look the part.

How to know that the email is fake?

  • At first sight, it doesn't look professional.
  • It has a lot of spelling and grammatical errors.
  • It's asking for your personal information.
  • It's prompting you to click on a link and either download or fill in your log in details.

Sender or caller is in a different country

If you receive a suspicious communication from someone in another country, proceed with caution. Many scammers target people living abroad as it makes them more difficult to trace.

Unbranded email addresses

Check the underlying sender's email address even if you recognise it, or it feels familiar. Be especially alert if you're not expecting any email. If it's not from a branded company email address, then you're likely dealing with a scam.

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How do scammers get away with it?

The people behind online money transfer scams are often, but not always, individuals who hide behind fake online accounts. They might live on the other side of the world to their victims.

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Find out how to protect your online identity here

Scammers often ask for money to be sent by wire transfer, as this means they'll receive it very quickly. Plus, there isn't usually any way for the sender to cancel or reverse the transaction once they've hit send.

Victims living overseas are often targeted as this makes it challenging to trace the scammer or do anything about the crime.

The regulations for picking up a money transfer can vary from one country to the next. In some countries picking up a money transfer may not require identification.

Are online money transfer companies safe?

Transferring money online is fast, convenient, and secure. However, it's essential to take steps to protect yourself. Act cautiously and only ever send money to people or businesses you know and trust, using established money transfer services.

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Have you been scammed? Here is what you can do

The first step you should take is to report the scam. Who you report it to will depend on the country you live in and the circumstances of the scam. This can be:

  • Your bank
  • Money transfer agent
  • The local police department
  • A specialist organisation that investigates fraud

Reporting the scam may help to track down the fraudster and prevent other people from falling victim to the same scam.

In 2019, the FBI arrested 281 people in connection to large-scale money transfer scams.

Getting your money back after being scammed

Unfortunately, it can be tough to get your money back after falling victim to a money transfer scam. If you authorised the payment, you must take measures to protect yourself and be cautious before making a money transfer.

Getting your money back will depend on your bank or card issuer, and the circumstances of the scam. However, in most cases, it's your responsibility to protect yourself.

If you feel threatened or think you may be in danger at any point, you should contact your local police immediately.

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Send money securely with WorldRemit

If you need to send a money transfer safely and securely, our team at WorldRemit can help. We take our customers' security very seriously. Our team consists of security experts that implement and manage sophisticated security technology and strategies.

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Wondering if WorldRemit is secure? Find out more information about our processes here

Some of the measures we have in place to protect you and your money, ensuring that WorldRemit is a secure service, are:

If you ever need help with your money transfer, don't hesitate to get in touch with our helpful support team. We're available 24/7 to answer your questions. 

Sign up and try WorldRemit for free

Here we talk you through everything you need to know to get started, whether it’s verifying your email address or adding a 4 digit PIN for extra security. With the WorldRemit app, you can even add facial recognition, so that you know your money is as safe and secure as can be!