How Do I Avoid Wire Transfer Fraud?

Records of an international wire transfer.
There can be scams in local classified ads.
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  • Written By: Richard Jennings
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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Wire transfer fraud is the act of defrauding or obtaining money from someone under false pretenses using any type of electronic communication. Thousands of people around the world fall victim to wire transfer fraud every year. However, wire transfer fraud is easy to avoid, with due vigilance. One of the most important things to remember to avoid wire transfer fraud is to never give your banking information to someone you don't know or who isn't representing a legitimate business with which you're already doing business. Remaining skeptical of any e-mails claiming you've won an award, inherited money or otherwise requests your bank account information is a good way to avoid fraud as well. Users can also make themselves aware of common fraud schemes by reviewing articles and watching for news stories on the subject.

One of the easiest ways to avoid wire transfer fraud is to never use a wire transfer service to do business with someone with whom you are not already familiar. Something else to watch for are e-mails claiming that you've won a prize. These scams often involve the criminal party sending you a fake check for double the amount of money which you have supposedly “won.” He or she then requests that you immediately send them the difference through a wire transfer.


Some other common scams include bogus offers to sell things at attractive prices through venues such as online classified ads. The criminals take your money, but there is no actual item for sale. Other common scams include the well-known “Foreign Lottery” scheme in which you receive an e-mail declaring you a lottery winner in a foreign country. If you haven't played a foreign lottery, you can safely assume this is a scam. Other schemes, such as the “Nigerian Prince” scheme, usually involve the scam artist posing as a foreign official and offering to pay you to make a wire transfer to accounts in various places throughout the world or telling you you've inherited money — they just need your bank information so they can make a transfer. To avoid wire transfer fraud, remember that most wire-fraud scams require you to give away banking information. As long as you never divulge any personal information to those whom you do not know, you can more easily avoid the scams.

Another easy way to avoid wire transfer fraud is to educate yourself about common wire transfer fraud schemes so you can quickly differentiate legitimate e-mails from unscrupulous scams. There are many different types of wire fraud, but all require the scam artist to obtain trust from their victims. As long as you remain skeptical toward offers from people you don't know, you can avoid many of the most common scams.

If you find that you have fallen victim to a wire-fraud scheme, there are some ways to limit the damage that the scam artist can do. You can immediately report everything that has happened to your bank and to the bank where the scam artist's account is located. If you can report it early enough, your bank may be able to freeze the funds and open an investigation. You should also report the incident to the police, as it is common for large police departments to have technology crime and identity theft units. It is also appropriate to report your case to government-run crime centers. These offices often track such crimes and your report may help them catch a criminal.


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