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Western Union Working To Stop Scammers

ENGLEWOOD, Colo (CBS4) Wire transfers send billions of dollars around the world every day. Western Union is one of the well-known names in the wire transfer industry, but now they're keeping some transfers from going through.

Western Union has become a tool that scammers use to cheat people. Now the company is fighting back with awareness and education efforts as well as stopping transfers they believe are fraudulent.

"Our agents are trained on what to look for, questions to ask, and if they suspect fraud, they are instructed and they are empowered to just refuse that transaction," said Shelley Bernhardt, Director of Consumer Protection with Western Union.

Saleana Lopez knows all too well how important it is to have a second set of eyes on your transaction.

"Not really sure what happened, buy my better judgment didn't take over," Lopez told CBS4.

Lopez and her son, Christopher, were looking to buy a car for him. They found a 2005 Audi A4 Turbo listed on Craigslist for $2500. They thought this would be the perfect car for him, and they were convinced the offer was legitimate.

(credit: CBS)

"The person selling the car actually sent us a guarantee from it looked like E-bay and Western Union combined," Christopher explained.

Scammers have gotten very sophisticated and even warned Lopez not to tell the Western Union teller that she was wiring the money for a car. Lopez made the transfer, then regretted it.

"It was the next day, I woke up in a cold sweat thinking what in the heck did I just do," Lopez explained.

"If they call us immediately upon recognizing they've become a victim, and it hasn't been paid out, we can refund that money back to them," Bernhardt said.

"They got our money back," Lopez said.

Saleana and Christopher dodged a bullet. They were able to take that $2500 and use it toward another car for Christopher. He ended up with a 2001 Audi A4 Turbo that he bought from a local seller. Saleana is thankful that Western Union saved her from making a big mistake.
RELATED: More Reports By 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks

- Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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