The Western Union Remission Fund, which has approximately $40 million in forfeited funds from the Western Union Company, has started distributing funds to around 25,000 victims in the Caribbean, the United States, and other locations.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that these victims will recover the lost amount.
This is the first distribution in the second phase of the Western Union Remission distributions, which aims to provide an opportunity for victims who had not filed petitions in the first phase to apply for remission.
In the first phase of distributions, over $365 million was paid to more than 148,000 victims, all of whom received total compensation for their losses.
The DOJ anticipates authorizing more distributions in the coming months. The DOJ continues to accept petitions for remission from anyone victimized by the scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said that the latest distribution of the Western Union Remission Fund has compensated thousands more victims whom predatory schemes have harmed.
She added that 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 said that today’s distribution of $39.6 million to thousands of victims demonstrates their commitment to hold all responsible parties accountable and to ensure justice for the victims who were financially harmed.
Postal Inspector in Charge Christopher Nielsen of the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Philadelphia Division said that the USPIS is committed to protecting fraud victims and will continue to investigate those perpetrating such schemes.
He added that this $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.
In 2017, Western Union entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the United States, acknowledging its responsibility for criminal conduct, which included violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and aiding and abetting wire fraud, and agreed to forfeit $586 million to compensate victims of the international consumer fraud scheme through the remission process.
The DOJ said Western Union resolved a parallel civil investigation with the Federal Trade Commission. Fraudsters targeted consumers, including seniors, through multiple scams, such as the grandparent scam, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and romance scams.
The DOJ said that the fraudsters convinced their victims to send money through Western Union, and sure owners, operators, or employees of Western Union agent locations were complicit in the schemes.
Western Union aided and abetted the fraud scheme by failing to suspend or terminate complicit agents and allowing them to continue processing fraud-induced monetary transactions.
Western Union fulfilled its obligations under the DPA, and the court granted the motion to dismiss the information.