AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Scammers are working hard every day to steal your money.
Hundreds of people in Maine have fallen victim to them. It has torn families apart and ruined lives. Now there is some financial relief on the way for people who have been taken. It’s coming from one of the largest settlements of its kind that targets the company many people used to give scammers the money.
Scams. They are not crimes of violence that cause physical pain. But the financial and emotional damage they do can be just as devastating. Take a Maine senior citizen named Bea who lost more than $100,000 to a Jamaican Lottery Scam.
“Her life actually ended prematurely because of the stress of her losing all that money, her life savings, caused her”, said York County Sheriff Bill King.
She is not alone in falling for it.
“A couple who lost their life savings to these scams and now they were losing their house because they couldn’t pay the property taxes”, said Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.
Mills and her counterparts across the country announced a settlement this week with Western Union. It will provide nearly $600 million in restitution to victims who used the company to wire money. Mills says the company knew people were being scammed and did nothing to stop it.
“They should have known and they did know because they received more than half a million complaints”, she said.
York County Sheriff Bill King was instrumental in investigating the Jamaican Lottery scam. Interns in his office recently tracked down more than 100 victims to let them know about the settlement. Many had passed away, others didn’t want to be bothered. About a dozen will be filing a claim.
“If a Mainer has an opportunity to recoup some of their money, I want us to be first in line because we’ve been hit hard by these scams”, he said.
With nearly $600 million spread out across the country, it’s unlikely any of the victims will be made completely whole. But Sheriff King says it’s not just about the money.
“It’s validation to law enforcement. It’s validation to victims, that they were victims of a crime. Because some people just felt I was too stupid or I shouldn’t have done that”, he said.
The Attorney General’s office has sent out notices to people who filed complaints through their office, but even if you haven’t filed a previous complaint you can still put in a claim. In order to receive restitution under the settlement claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018. Attorney General Mills encourages consumers to reach out to the Consumer Protection Division if they have questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org , (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131. You can also visit westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124.