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.
“Consumers should never wire money to someone they don’t know,” says Garner. “When booking a property, it is best to use a form of payment that will allow you to recover your money if you lose it to fraud. For example, consumers can protest a credit card charge if a product or service wasn’t delivered. Also, be sure to do your research and check property reviews and references before making any payments.”Since 2010, MoneyGram has helped prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in suspected fraud activity around the world and remains committed to keeping your money out of the hands of scammers. MoneyGram is the founding member of the Scam Awareness Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on increasing consumer awareness about scams. Learn more about the alliance and fraud prevention at www.scamawareness.org. Consumers should call 1-800-MONEYGRAM (800-666-3947) if they believe MoneyGram was used to wire money as a result of a scam. About MoneyGram International, Inc. MoneyGram, a leading money transfer company, enables consumers who are not fully served by traditional financial institutions to meet their financial needs. MoneyGram offers money transfer services worldwide through a global network of 339,000 agent locations - including retailers, international post offices and financial institutions - in more than 200 countries and territories. MoneyGram also offers bill payment services in the U.S. and Canada.