For Immediate Release
July 2, 2008
Senior Assistant Attorney General Connie Stratton
Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte announced today that MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., has entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with New Hampshire and 43 other States and the District of Columbia, in response to concerns about the use of the company's wire transfer services by fraudulent telemarketers. Under the AVC, MoneyGram will, among other things, fund a $1.1 million national consumer awareness program and set out very prominent consumer warnings on the forms used by consumers to wire money.
MoneyGram, based in Minneapolis, offers money transfer services by wire at over 25,000 locations in the United States and over 100,000 locations around the world, including grocery stores, gas stations and other retail businesses.
The problem addressed by the AVC is the high number of "fraud-induced transfers" – that is, money wired by consumers to fraudulent telemarketers and other scam artists. For example, some telemarketers, often based in other countries, use a "lottery" scam, in which they tell vulnerable consumers they have won a large sum of money but must pay taxes or other charges in order to claim the winnings. The victims are then directed to send the money by wire, because wire transfers are fast, transfer agents exist in most communities, and funds can be picked up in multiple locations worldwide.
The problem of fraud-induced transfers is substantial. In 2003, a survey conducted in seven states of transfers over $300 to Canada by another major money transfer company estimated that over 29 percent of those transfers were fraud-induced, resulting in consumer losses in the year 2002 of approximately $113 million.
Among the terms of the AVC just reached with MoneyGram are these:
Commenting on the AVC, Attorney General Ayotte noted the importance of enlisting "third parties" like MoneyGram in the campaign against consumer fraud. Attorney General Ayotte said, "In our continuing efforts to protect consumers from fraud, we need to make it harder for perpetrators to utilize traditional methods of transferring money. By entering into an agreement like this one with MoneyGram-with its model fraud warning, consumer education program, and enhanced training for money transfer agents-we are taking another step in the right direction."
Signing the AVC were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301