Multi-state Consumer Protection Settlement with Western Union


Staff Report



Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced a multi-state settlement with Western Union to establish a comprehensive anti-fraud program to help prevent consumers from sending money to con artists using Western Union products.

The settlement, reached by Ohio, 48 other states, and the District of Columbia, resolves a multi-state investigation that focused on complaints from consumers who used Western Union’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.

“In the fight against fraud, prevention and detection are critical,” Attorney General DeWine said. “This settlement includes safeguards that will help protect consumers and their money.”

The settlement requires Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where victims of fraud use Western Union to wire money to scam artists. The program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:

  • Anti-fraud warnings on send forms that consumers use to wire money;
  • Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union’s agents about fraud-induced wire transfers;
  • Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints;
  • Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers;
  • Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers;
  • Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures.
  • Western Union also has agreed to pay a total of $5 million to the states for their costs and fees. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office share is $234,038.30.

In addition to the settlement with the states, Western Union also settled claims related to fraud-induced transfers with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice, as announced on Jan. 19, 2017. As part of those related settlements, Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million to a fund that the Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to victims of fraud-induced wire transfers nationwide. More information is available at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-mlars/remission#wu.

In addition to Ohio, the following jurisdictions participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

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Staff Report