The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that the Western Union Remission Fund has started distribution of about US$40 million forfeited to the United States from the Western Union Company to about 25,000 victims located in the Caribbean, the United States and other places.
The DOJ said on Friday that these victims stand to recover the full amount of their losses.
It said this is the first distribution in the second phase of the Western Union Remission distributions.
The DOJ said the first phase of distributions paid more than US$365 million to over 148,000 victims, all of whom received full compensation for their losses.
The Justice Department anticipates authorising more distributions for victims in the coming months.
The second phase of the Western Union Remission was opened in March 2022 to provide victims who had not filed petitions in the first phase of distributions an opportunity to file for remission, the DOJ said.
It said it continues to accept petitions for remission from those victimised by the scheme.
“The latest distribution of the Western Union Remission Fund compensated thousands more victims harmed by predatory schemes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “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: “Today’s distribution of US$39.6 million to thousands of victims to compensate them for their losses demonstrates our commitment to hold all responsible parties accountable and to ensure justice for the victims who were financially harmed. We thank our law enforcement partners who continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the victims.”
The DOJ said that, in 2017, Western Union entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the United States.
Pursuant to the DPA, it said Western Union acknowledged responsibility for its “criminal conduct, which included violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and aiding and abetting wire fraud, and agreed to forfeit US$586 million, which has been made available to compensate victims of the international consumer fraud scheme through the remission process.
“Western Union simultaneously resolved a parallel civil investigation with the Federal Trade Commission,” the DOJ said.
In this scheme, it said fraudsters targeted consumers, including seniors, through multiple scams.
In each of these scams, the fraudsters convinced their victims to send money through Western Union, the DOJ said.
It said certain owners, operators, or employees of Western Union agent locations were complicit in the schemes.