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Paid someone you think is a scammer?

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Last week, we kicked off the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with ideas about recognizing and avoiding scams. This week, it’s about what to do if you think you’ve paid a scammer. These steps might not apply to you, but there’s probably a family member, a friend, or someone in your community who could use them. So please help share these through your community.

Scammers can be very convincing. They call, email, and send text messages trying to get our money or personal information. They often target specific communities, including Latinos, and frequently use scare tactics. And, unfortunately, they're good at what they do.

So if you’ve already paid someone you think is a scammer, what’s your next step?

  • Act quickly. If you think you’ve sent money to a scammer or government impersonator, contact the bank, gift card, or credit card company you used to send the money. Tell them that it was a fraudulent transaction. Then ask them to reverse it and give you your money back.

  • Did you send a wire transfer through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram? If so, contact the wire transfer company. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.

    • MoneyGram: 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947)

    • Western Union: 1-800-325-6000

Scammers often ask people to pay using wire transfers. The FTC brought successful cases against both Western Union and MoneyGram, and the companies agreed to return hundreds of millions of dollars to people who were tricked into wiring money to scammers using their services. The settlements also required both companies to make changes to make it harder for scammers to use MoneyGram or Western Union to defraud customers.

  • Did you send cash? If so, chances are it’s gone. But contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and ask them to intercept the package. To learn more about this process, visit USPS Package Intercept: The Basics. If you used another delivery service, contact them as soon as possible.

If you spot a scam, tell your loved ones and people in your community about it so they can avoid it, too. Then tell the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your reports can make a huge difference in knowing what’s happening in your community.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit
Scam Tags:  Avoiding Scams

Comments

I was scammed out of more than $5,000 via wire transfer through my Bank of America account, I reported to the police department, and called BOA to reverse the transfer and BOA refused...

what did they refuse to do? your comment isn't posted totally, But I think that the banks should implement more secure ways to protect consumers. After all, they are the ones holding our money.

I was scammed out of $1500 and BOA said it was my fault, they had warned me with emails. But I was sick in bed and never got to my computer. I had to accept the loss.

Gift card companies will not return your money . They don't care if it's fraud or not.

Gift cards need to be outlawed. They are the worst scams.

Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments.

But they’re popular with scammers because they’re easy for people to find and buy, and they have fewer protections for buyers compared to some other payment options. They’re more like cash: once you use the card, the money on it is gone. Scammers like this.

If someone calls you and demands that you pay them with gift cards, you can bet that a scammer is behind that call. This FTC article tells more about gift card scams.

That's an unnecessary clarification, of course they are for gifts it's in the name. Suggesting that the word Gift prevents you from getting your money back regardless if you were scammed because you gave your money instead of paying it is nonsense, that technicality is precisely what makes those cards a choice for scammers and that statement "Gift cards are for gifts not payments" is expected from scammers not from FTC staff.

I agree!

They definitely don't care. I bought an Amazon gift card and when I went to use it it was invalid. I contacted Amazon and they looked into it and would still not refund the money. I was out the money and very disheartened with Amazon. I don't know how the card was used prior, but, I am out the money and they just don't care.

I also reported to FTC the fraud unit and nothing happened.. I am still out $5,000. Between filling out all the reports and contacting BOA, a long process of spending a few days... and nothing happened.

The FTC uses reports like yours to investigate and bring cases against fraud, scams, and bad business practices. The FTC isn't able to respond to each report individually, and it can't take action on behalf of individual consumers. When you submit your report, we offer you next steps you can take to protect yourself or recover from fraud. If you include your email address in your report, we'll also send you an email with these steps. You can read more about what happens after you report in these Frequently Asked Questions

I was scammed last week it was had to pay the scammer the gift cards worth $4,500/- They tried to frighten me and even when I called the Amex Credit card company from where the gift cards were bought they said no then I called the Police and they have all my details just waiting to see what happens. I need to fight it out because I do not want those cheats to get that money.

It's not fraud if you buy the gift cards and give the scammer gift card information. Banks can't reverse these transactions. Best defense is to spread the word to all family & friends to Never buy gift cards and give out number to someone you don't know.

This is what happened to me last year. Once I had given the gift card info to the scammers, they were off and running. I contacted the gift card companies and requested their help to get the money back. They wouldn’t help. Even when I asked to have them alert their store vendors to let customers know about the scam, the card companies wouldn’t. They didn’t want to scare consumers away from buying them, or tarnishing their own brands…

Gift cards are cashed IMMEDIATELY and are not refundable. Sad but true!

A scammer might cash a gift card quickly. 

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, tell the company that issued the card right away

The FTC has a list of contact information for popular gift card companies, including Amazon, Ebay, Google Play, iTunes, Steam, and MoneyPak.

I reported it to gift card company right away & nothing!

Can steam cards be used for sending computer files or data updates

I used gift cards.. reported it & nothing done!

I had over 8 messages on my voicemail stating I won an Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes and for me to call them back; which I did. The person on the phone was telling me I won all this money and he need to take some personal information from me so he can send the money. I told him before I can send my information he need to send me information letting me know he is legit. He agreed to send a mail with Publisher Clearing House information on it, Which I never got! So I decided to call Publisher Clearing House myself. They said that they will never call anyone on the phone. They will send you an email or a post card in the mail stating you won. He told me "what ever you do, Do not give out your personal information" because it is a scam.
So the moral of the story if someone call you asking for personal information make sure to call and check yourself. No matter how Good it sounds.

I sent money via a wire transfer through Wells Fargo and Suntrust bank - neither bank ever helped me recover my money.

Why aren't companies required to post contact phone numbers or better yet a specific fraud number. I contacted Amazon about a suspected fraudulent number via website text chat. It took 5 times of yes or no questions to answer "is this a valid phone number". They said Amazon doesn't do outbound calls, then they ask if I wanted someone to call me ??? The person who called me hung up after I was complaining that they don't give out their phone numbers and I should be the one calling them.

The FTC has a list of contact information for popular gift card companies, including Amazon, Ebay, Google Play, iTunes, Steam, and MoneyPak.

Someone sent me a letter from Alabama dept of labor to call a number I called the person on the line asked for personal information. Then wanted me to send a copy of my license front and back, a selfish of me holding my license and a copy of my social security card
That didn't sound like anything that the dept of Labor would ask for. was unable to contact anyone on anther number to confirm this. didnt send anything.

It's good that you looked for a number and called the Department of Labor to check on the letter. When you get a letter or email you don't expect, it's safer to look up a number yourself and contact the business directly to ask for information.

What can the scammers do if they have your phone number only? I contacted one before I realized it was a scam. They sent me the fake checks, which I am going to report, but now they have my phone number. Is there any real danger?

I wasn’t sure where to post this question, so I decided just to post it in the most recent comments.

I had been scammed in paid project. The scammer sent me false Cheques which i deposited in wells fargo bank and they credit my account so i was sure that i have received money so I transferred scammer’s consultants $5,000 and after a week the bank return the Cheques and debit my account so how did i claim my funds from bank because it was bank mistake to credit my account initially for false Cheques.

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