The Western Union Remission Fund has begun distributing approximately US$40 million in funds rescinded to the United States from the Western Union Company (Western Union) to approximately 25,000 victims located in the Caribbean, the United States, and other locations, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ recently stated that these victims are eligible to receive compensation for all their losses.
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According to the statement, this is the first distribution of the second round of Western Union Remission disbursements.
The first wave of payouts, according to the DOJ, paid out more than 365 million dollars to more than 148,000 victims, who were all fully compensated for their losses.
In the upcoming months, the Justice Department expects to approve more payouts to victims.
According to the DOJ, the second phase of the Western Union Remission was launched in March 2022 to give victims who had not submitted petitions during the first phase of distributions the chance to do so.
It said that it is still open to pleas for forgiveness from individuals who have been harmed by the plan.
The Criminal Division of the Justice Department’s acting assistant attorney general Nicole M. Argentieri stated that the most recent allocation of the Western Union Remission Fund had helped thousands more people who had been injured by fraudulent schemes.
“Victim assistance is a primary goal of the Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program, and this latest distribution is a testament to the impact asset forfeiture can have in compensating and making victims whole.”
US Attorney Gerard M. Karam for the Middle District of Pennsylvania remarked: “Today’s distribution of US$39.6 million to thousands of victims to compensate them for their losses demonstrates our commitment to hold all responsible parties accountable and to ensure justice for the victims who were financially harmed. We thank our law enforcement partners who continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the victims.”
According to Christopher Nielsen, the postal inspector in charge of the USPIS Philadelphia Division, “The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is committed to protecting victims of fraud and will continue to investigate those perpetrating such schemes.”
He noted, “This US$39 million disbursement to 25,000 victims brings the total disbursed to over $404 million to over 174,000 victims in the Western Union Remission process. We would like to thank our partners in this extraordinary effort, especially the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.”
A deferred prosecution agreement was signed between Western Union and the US Department of Justice in 2017.
According to the DPA, Western Union admitted guilt for its, “criminal conduct, which included violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and aiding and abetting wire fraud, and agreed to forfeit US$586 million, which has been made available to compensate victims of the international consumer fraud scheme through the remission process.”
The DOJ stated, “Western Union simultaneously resolved a parallel civil investigation with the Federal Trade Commission.”
According to this strategy, con artists used several ruses to lure clients, particularly elders.
According to the DOJ, three specific scams targeted at seniors include the grandparent scam, in which the con artist assumes the identity of the victim’s relative and demands money right away to prevent personal harm, lottery or sweepstakes scams, in which the con artist claims the victim has won a sizable cash prize but must pay fees like taxes to claim it, and romance scams, in which the con artist assumes the identity of an online love interest and requests money for a visit or for a date.
According to the DOJ, the con artists persuaded their victims in each of these crimes to pay money using Western Union.
It claimed that certain Western Union agent station owners, operators, or staff members were involved in the scams.
The DOJ remarked, “Western Union aided and abetted the fraud scheme by failing to suspend or terminate complicit agents and by allowing them to continue to process fraud-induced monetary transactions.”
The organization concluded, “Western Union fulfilled its obligations under the DPA, and the court granted the motion to dismiss the information.”