Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the refund deadline.
If you lost money to a scammer whom you paid using Western Union anytime from Jan. 1, 2004, to Jan. 19, 2017, you can file a claim up until May 31, 2018, to get your money back. The government recently extended the deadline from Feb. 12.
For years, scammers conned many people into sending them payments through Western Union by promising them prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront. They also pretended to be family members in need of cash or law enforcement officers demanding payment. No one received the cash, prizes or services they were promised.
As the result of joint investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million and admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud. The DOJ is using that money to provide refunds to Americans who were tricked into using Western Union to pay scammers.
Each person’s claim must be verified by the DOJ. If your claim is verified, the amount you get will depend on how much you lost and the number of people who submit valid claims.
Only the amount you transferred via Western Union is eligible for a refund. Expenses including Western Union fees, other losses or transfers sent through other businesses do not qualify.
For more information on how to apply for a refund, go to the FTC website.