Can you trust Moneygram?
Yes, they can scam you on Moneygram, just as they can on any platform. Like Western Union, Moneygram is a money transfer company that wants the best for their customers.
When we look at the usage of these payment methods that others make, that’s a different story.
Even today, the most preferred methods to pass money to a scammer are money orders and wire transfers, hence the bad connotation of these companies. It doesn’t mean all their users are scams, but you should be cautious given how easy it is to exploit the platforms.
Unlike digital money, you can’t undo a wire transfer or a cash order. The money is gone, whether you report or not. Combine it with upfront-charge services, and you get the perfect recipe for a high-reward scam with no risk.
If you don’t have a normal bank account, Moneygram may be the right choice for you. It can help to manage money as long as you don’t fall for the Moneygram scams.
How Do Moneygram Scams Work?
As the world’s second-biggest company to wire money, their service attracts as many clients as scammers. You may not be aware of how easy it is to make a wrong payment permanent, and how hard it’s to undo it.
The trick is, a stranger wants you to trust their way of making payments. His methods don’t precisely align with Moneygram’s terms of service.
In Moneygram scams, a scammer makes a victim pay for a service upfront using a method with no protection, like cash, checks, or wire transfer. The con man makes an offer the buyer can’t refuse, so they take the risk to pay first and wait for the (unfulfilled) promise.
Most schemes are confidence tricks. However, if the scammer has the motivation to get the victim, it can evolve into an identity theft case.
A con-man knows you have the money they want. After trying different tactics, they can’t convince you to follow instructions. Most would have stopped contact at that time, but persistent scammers will steal your information to take the steps for you.
A Moneygram con-man could already know who you are. It doesn’t cost much to start a side phishing scheme posing as Moneygram on an email and steal your data.
Scammers know illegal online stores where they can buy convincing phishing templates, Moneygram included. The Amazon of scammy offers.
Think about it: you fall for a scam on a Moneygram website clone and you call the number and try to report. Customer support tells you they can’t do anything because you paid via a fake website.
Even on the real site, you can’t get back money lost on confidence tricks with these payment methods.
People fall for it because they ignore the dos and don’ts of safe money transfers. Scammers will ask you any of three things which Moneygram never recommends:
- To wire money before you buy
- To send a money order before you buy
- To cash a check that may cancel a few weeks later
Types Of MoneyGram Scams
Fake jobs, lotteries, e-commerce, loans, IRS. A con man needs only a few tools to make the scam work, which already gives them access to countless variations.
- The Hook: A con man using confidence tricks won’t give any service or money. That’s why they don’t mind making bold claims online if that attracts more victims. They range from the reward/greed hook for beginners to the fear hook for skilled impostors.
- One Way To Do Things: The script has to explain why the offer can’t be a scam, why the victim deserves it, or why there can’t be variations on the plan. A scammer messages you with an instructions list and one possible payment method. If you reject, they either stop communicating or make fake promises to make you trust their way.
- Exit Plan: Once they accept a position where the victim can’t protect, the scammer gets what he wants. As the victim waits for him to deliver what was promised, the con man walks away with no risk of getting caught.
One last pattern you’ll see: scammers follow up a lot when monitoring your actions, then disappear when it’s their turn.
#1 Online Store Scam
The only thing a new seller wants is sales at the point of ignoring the scammer intentions. Sellers want clients’ money no matter what, which gives the con man freedom to use payment scams.
An overly-committed buyer orders twenty or your most expensive items. He sends you a Moneygram Money order worth around $1000. You cash out the check and think you completed the order.
Mind that the scammer may have forged or altered the check. You could buy a $10 money order and make it look like a $1000 order. Weeks later, the company finds out the fraudulent receipt and makes you responsible for repaying the $990 to Moneygram.
#2 Lottery Scams
An international lottery sends you an email asking for money to collect your winnings. They ask to wire money on Moneygram to a certain number by X data, or you lose your reward (FOMO).
The question is, why wire transfer and not other methods? Why paying for a reward in the first place? Advance fee scammers talk about lotteries, bogus charities, inheritances, and other fairy tales.
If you do get a reward for no reason, it may be a fake check or a money-laundering operation.
#3 Money Laundering
Work from home, four-hour work week, over $2000 a month! If anybody can do it, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Anyone with some knowledge about identity theft knows the consequences: impersonation, collector calls, credit score drops, and fake accounts.
Well, money laundering works on the reverse. Someone pays you to carry with a criminal identity. It may mean nothing, or it may cost thousands in fines and jail time. You could ruin your life by laundering illegal money without knowing it.
Why Moneygram? Wire transfer and cash make the recipient untraceable. If someone is willing to pay you for “managing funds,” you may be trading your liberty for money.
#4 Virtual Assistant Scams
Who said earning money for managing funds? That’s the best-case scenario. You usually find a con man who pulls the check scam and leaves you in debt.
Like money laundering, you apply for the virtual assistant job. They send you the funds using a fake check, which you need to send to another account via wire transfer.
The deal: they send you the “working capital” on the check, you re-send most of it, and keep the remaining one as your salary.
The catch? When the bank flags the check as Fraudulent, you are responsible for repaying any funds you spent with that check. Like the e-commerce example.
#5 IRS Extortion
Scams based on fear are tricky. You have to scare the victim to make them follow instructions, but not too much so that they contact the real government agents.
An impostor uses the identity of the IRS, FTC, FBI, lender, or tax collector to follow up on your payments aggressively. Surprisingly enough, you never heard about missing payments before. Why now?
These groups will contact you on the phone with scripts and on email with phishing links. Also, they may dissuade you from looking for real help.
“Sharing confidential information may put at risk your account.”
“We will discard your allegations if you take care of your duties within 24hours.”
It resembles the typical infomercial: “50% discount if you buy today!”
So you wire money via Moneygram because they tell you to do so. You’re already in trouble; why arguing about payment methods?
If you pay, you have the peace of mind you got rid of the (fake) debt. Which only places you on the “sucker’s list” to be a bigger target for scammers!
#6 Loan Scams
A lender offers excellent interest rates and a comprehensive repayment plan. BUT you have to pay your interests upfront via Moneygram wire transfers.
And the loan? They send it to you via check or P2P payment, which can be reversed. You paid interest for a fake loan.
Preventing Moneygram Scams
It’s not a coincidence that money orders are one of the scammers’ favorite methods. It only takes slight confusion to make one permanent mistake and lose it all. Given the risks, it’s better to prevent than stop a Moneygram scam.
- Avoid unsafe payment methods in general. Look for alternatives for wire transfers and money orders. If the dealer doesn’t give you any safe payment options, consider giving up on the deal.
- Follow the Moneygram guidelines. If Moneygram is your online choice, at least follow the recommended practices. Wire transfers aren’t “bad,” but require caution. Don’t let others tell you how to use your money.
- Learn to protect your identity. A scammer who can’t be convinced may try to take control of your account. That’s why you get multiple reach-outs at once. That Moneygram impostor email could be the same person you talked to before.
Moneygram Scams: Bad Company Or Bad Practices?
This isn’t a Western Union vs Moneygram comparison. Payment companies create tools for clients to make life easier. The consumer can use them for good and bad purposes regardless of the company’s motivations.
Moneygram wouldn’t have become a top payment brand without being honest with clients. Wire transfers and money orders have their place if you stick to the way the service was designed to be used.