Money Transfer Scams 101: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Sending money to somebody else, no matter how far away they may be, has become unbelievably quick and efficient. Gone are the days when you had to spend so much time just to send a few dollars to friends and relatives in the Philippines. Today, the money can be right in the recipient’s hands in an instant.


With this convenience comes a new level of risk however, something that every person sending money abroad regularly should be careful of.


Understanding the Risks

Understanding the Risks

Online money transfer could be quite susceptible to risks. But the good news is, this is something that you can control.


Here’s one thing that you would have to understand about online money transfers – they’re very easy and convenient to use. This is why there are people who take advantage of it and use it for less than honest transactions.


This is why if you’re someone who would always choose convenience over anything else, you have to keep yourself secure against money transfer scams. Remember that this is often an issue on who the user trusts and sends money to, and not a matter of how secure the transfer service is.


No matter how secure the service may be, if you have very little precautions in place about who’s on the other end to receive it, then the security risks are still there.


6 Common Money Transfer Scams


Here are some of the most common money transfer scams that you would have to watch out for:


An online love interest who is asking for money

An online love interest who is asking for money

A lot of people have met the man or woman of their dreams online – it’s nothing new. But the moment you notice that you seem to be sending money far too often to someone you haven’t even met personally yet, then you probably have a huge problem in your hands.


Because the internet has made it easy for people to meet and get together online, it has also become easier for a lot of people to squeeze money out of people who are interested in getting to know them a lot better.


And you can’t really blame those who fall for it. After all, when it comes to someone you’re truly interested in, you often end up putting your heart over your mind in the effort to put your best foot forward. Unfortunately, this is also a situation that a lot of people can take advantage of.


If the person on the other end is in a tight spot, or if you just want to show them that you can still pamper them despite not having met them personally yet, you can always do this in so many different ways other than sending them money.


If they need to pay for bills, find out if there’s a way for you to pay for it online. Just don’t make sure you do it month after month. If you want to send them a gift, pick one out yourself and have it delivered.


Bottom line here is this – if you don’t know them too well yet, or if you feel you know them enough but you feel like they only get in touch with you to ask for money, then there’s a huge chance that the other person is scamming you for money.


Someone who needs help with an emergency

Someone who needs help with an emergency

It doesn’t even have to be a love interest. It’s possible that there’s no romance involved. This could be someone who you met online, or it could even be someone who you’ve met face to face. The story here is always the same.


A mother in the hospital. A younger sister who doesn’t have enough money for school. It could even be a personal dilemma, like a sickness that the person has or a tight spot that he or she has to get out of.


Try to get all the details out first. Dig deep and go to the specifics. Again, try to find out if there’s any other way to do it if you really want to help. Can you send money straight to the hospital? To the school?


If the person insists that you send them money even if you know for a fact that there’s another way to do it, start thinking twice about helping out.


Someone who’s pretending to be someone you know and is demanding for money on the spot


This happens more often than you think. Someone may call you pretending to be a hospital employee, saying that your friend or relative (who always, conveniently enough for the scammer, lives out of town) was in an accident. The person would then tell you that you need to send money to the hospital right away, or else, treatment may not be continued.


In some instances, someone may also claim to be your friend and would text you using a different number. They may say that they have been robbed and do not have access to their phone, and would need money to get them out of trouble.


The stories can get more creative, depending on how experienced the scammer is. The point is, before sending any money, always get confirmation first that every piece of the story is real. Contact other people you know. If they claim that your friend is in the hospital, call the hospital directly. Don’t give in to panic.


An online seller offering a deal that seems too good to be true

An online seller offering a deal that seems too good to be true

Shopping is also one thing that has become more convenient with online money transfer services, but it can also lead you into a trap.


Most of the time, it’s an offer that you would not be able to resist. It could be an unbelievably low price, or a buy one take one offer for a product that’s usually rare. Though there are so many legitimate online shops out there, there are a few who would take your money and never send you the product that you paid for. They could also end up sending you a product that’s not the same as the one you were promised.


Always double check the legitimacy of the online seller. Check for reviews, and see if anybody else has dealt with this person before. Compare their offer with that of other sellers. Ask a lot of questions, like how they are able to afford giving their customers such an offer.


Also, take note that this may not always be disguised behind a fantastic offer. There are also patient scammers who sell their products the same way everybody else sells theirs so that you wouldn’t get suspicious. Just be alert and trust your gut feeling.


Someone asking you to cash a check for them

Someone asking you to cash a check for them

Someone could give you a check and then tell you that there’s no way for them to have the check cashed for whatever reason. They would proceed to ask you to just send the money to their account.


Of course, because there is that sense of security of having an actual check in your hands, it’s not surprising that you’ll give in and send them the money right away. But because it sometimes takes a bank a few days to figure out whether a check is valid or not, you may only discover that the check bounced when the other person has disappeared on you, with no way for you to get your money back.


There are even a few creative variations to this. Some would tell you that they want to hire you for a specific job, and would send you a check for a huge amount, telling you to buy and pay for everything you’ll need for the job, and send them the money if the amount on the check is too much. You’ll find out later on that the check does not have any funding, and you’re left to foot the bill.


Another variation to this is the Mystery Shopper offer. They would send you the check and ask you to evaluate an online service for them using your own money. The amount on the check should cover it all. Of course, you would find out later on that your money is gone, and the check is useless.


Before agreeing to send someone money in exchange of a check they send you, always verify whether the check and the purpose behind it is real or not.


A lottery or raffle that you won

A lottery or raffle that you won

Image Credit: CanStockPhoto


It always starts out as an email or a text message telling you that you won something big through a raffle. They would then tell you that you would have to pay for taxes before you can claim the prize.


Before getting too excited and sending any money, find out more about the raffle or lottery. Do you remember joining anything like it? Respond to the message and ask for more information. Would there be a representative you can talk to about it? Can’t they just deduct the taxes from your prize (if it involves a cash prize)?


Scammers can be the most creative people in the world, and their stories may have some variations depending on the situation. The most important thing is this – use logic over emotions first, and never trust anybody that easily.


Avoiding the Scam


Here are other tips that would keep you from becoming a victim of money transfer scams:

  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t know, or someone you don’t know too well.

  • If you really find the need to send money, don’t send a huge amount. Do it in moderation.

  • Don’t find the need to help out all the time. Once is fine, twice is okay, but if it seems that the other person is always depending on you to get them out of a bind, start becoming suspicious.

  • Remember that help does not always mean giving in to what the other person wants. If the person needs help with the usual costs of living, help them out by referring them to a job or teaching them how to handle money well.

  • Stop thinking that money will impress a person you might be interested in. There are other ways for you to show your romantic intentions.

  • Call the money transfer service and inform them about what happened. It may not do much in terms of getting your money back, but it could send up a red flag that someone has been using their service for fraudulent activities.

  • Always do research before sending any money. The few minutes that you would spend to do that could save you a lot of money.


Remember that money transfer scams often have little to do with the security of the service provider you choose. No matter how secure their system may be, if you are easily fooled, then it would still be easy for you to become a victim.

Rica J

I am a mother, a wife and a technology loving Filipina who loves reading hi-fiction books (dragons!) , good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut. I am born and raised in the Philippines and now resides in Australia but finds myself in the Philippines for at least 3 months a year. I am part of the Filipino Australian Community and have been living between Australia and the Philippines since 2007.


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