MoneyGram Warns of Potential Charity Scams Following Oklahoma Tornadoes

May 23, 2013
MoneyGram Warns of Potential Charity Scams Following Oklahoma TornadoesDALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May. 23, 2013-- MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI), a leading global money transfer company, is warning consumers not to let scammers profit from tragedy by luring them to donate to fraudulent non-profit organizations following the devastating tornadoes that destroyed or damaged homes, hospitals, and schools in Oklahoma. According to MoneyGram, this type of fraud typically spikes immediately following a prominent tragedy, with consumers losing an average of $824 when they fall victim to a fake charity scam.

“Scammers show no charity, even when it comes to cheating communities and individuals who lost so much in this storm,” says Kim Garner, senior vice president of global security and investigations for MoneyGram. “There are real charities doing good work for the affected communities, but if a charity asks for a donation by money transfer, it’s likely a scam. As a rule, never send a wire transfer to someone you don’t know, because once the money is sent, it’s gone for good.”

A charity scam occurs when a scammer solicits a “donation” to benefit a particular organization. The organization may sound similar to a legitimate charity, and may even have a fake website that looks like an organization’s official site. “But once the donation is sent by money transfer, the scam is complete. The money does not go to the intended cause, and the donor can’t get their money back,” says Garner.

Garner says there are five red flags that signal a likely charity scam:

  • Name Game: The name of the organization is similar to a well-known charity, but is slightly off – such as the word “United” instead of “American” or “Organization” instead of “Association.” Consumers can search the IRS website for legitimate, tax-exempt charities.
  • High Pressure: The caller needs an immediate answer and asks you to donate without taking the time to do any research into the organization. The FTC offers these tips to review before giving to a charity.
  • Cash Only: The organization will only accept cash through a wire transfer – legitimate non-profit organizations accept multiple forms of payment.
  • Lack of Information: Anyone soliciting donations should be able to answer questions about the organization and where the money is going. If they can’t answer specific questions, hang up or delete the email.
  • Online Push: As internet and social media use continues to grow, charity scams thrive online. Multiple fraudulent organizations can prey on a donor’s goodwill quickly by pushing for a donation using online platforms.

Garner advises consumers to follow the three Rs – recognize, react and report – to ensure the affected families in Oklahoma receive each intended donation.

  • Recognize: Consumers should look for red flags when an organization asks them to send a donation through a wire service, because scammers often request these methods knowing that once the money is sent, it cannot be retrieved.
  • React: When a charity scam is identified, consumers should immediately put an end to any transaction or conversation – hang up the phone, delete the email, or end the back-and-forth messaging.
  • Report: Report the suspected charity scam to the local police, and file reports with the Federal Trade Commission, National Consumers League and Internet Crime Complaint Center (if the suspected fraud was online).

Consumers should call 1-800-MONEYGRAM (800-666-3947) if they believe MoneyGram was used to wire money as a result of an Oklahoma tornado charity scam. This information can be helpful in stopping others from being scammed by the same scheme. Since mid-2010, MoneyGram has prevented millions of dollars in suspected fraudulent activity, put those dollars back in the pockets of consumers, and kept the funds out of the hands of scammers.

As part of the company’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from fraud, MoneyGram recently launched an enhanced version of its fraud prevention website – – or Spanish website at – where consumers can arm themselves with information to prevent monetary losses to charity scams.

About MoneyGram International

MoneyGram International, a leading money transfer company, enables consumers who are not fully served by traditional financial institutions to meet their financial needs. MoneyGram offers bill payment services in the United States and Canada and money transfer services worldwide through a global network of more than 321,000 agent locations – including retailers, international post offices and financial institutions – in 198 countries and territories. To learn more about money transfer or bill payment at an agent location or online, please visit or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Source: MoneyGram International

MoneyGram International
Mike Gutierrez, 214-303-9923

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