As consumers make summer vacation plans, MoneyGram International (NASDAQ: MGI), a leading global money transfer and payment services company, urges everyone to look out for scams that could ruin their trip.
Two of the most common money transfer scams that heat up during the summer are the ‘person in need scam’ and the ‘vacation rental scam.’ Both attempt to steal money through money transfers, and both are easy to avoid.
Person in Need Scam
In the ‘person in need scam,’ the scammer impersonates a friend or family member, often using personal information they’ve found on social media sites, and claims to need money due to an emergency. This occurs most often when the friend or family member is on vacation, and the impersonator will claim to have been arrested, mugged or experiencing a medical emergency while traveling. The victim’s fear will often motivate him or her to send the money without first verifying the story.“Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to steal money, and social media gives them the personal information they need to make this scam successful,” says Kim Garner, senior vice president of Global Security at MoneyGram. “We advise consumers to wait until they get home before posting vacation pictures to social media accounts in order to avoid alerting potential criminals of their whereabouts, leaving loved ones vulnerable. Since January this scam has cost victims more than $2.5 million and we expect to see that amount increase over the summer travel season.” If a consumer receives a call or email from someone who claims to be a loved one in trouble, they should always contact the person whose security is in question and verify the story before sending money to help. Vacation Rental Scam In the ‘vacation rental scam,’ a traveler looking for a vacation rental finds a property on a website that looks perfect for his or her trip. To secure the reservation, the alleged property owner asks for money to be paid up front via money transfer. When the traveler later arrives at the rental property, he or she finds that the address does not exist or that the home is already occupied by the actual owner and was never actually for rent.