HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FROM THE FINANCIAL RUIN OF NIGERIAN 419 COUNTERFEIT CHECK FRAUD
The Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud:
Bankrupting thousands through online and offline Classifieds
Western Union - Wiring Money Into the Void
Wiring funds through the banking system
When you wire funds from your checking account to your cousin's checking account in Oshkosh, a paper trail is established. If your cousin calls you on Tuesday to find out where the money is that you wired last Thursday, your bank can track the path of the money through the banking system to see what went wrong. A record of transfer is generated each and every time the amount moves from one bank's ledger to the next. (See Wire Transfer Systems)
Wiring funds through Western Union
That's not the case at all when you use Western Union. The only record kept by Western Union is of your funds being transferred from one of their accounts to another. For instance, if you are in Los Angeles and you wire funds to somebody in London, all that Western Union can tell you is that the funds were picked up in London, and at which office.
Western Union takes your money and gives you a receipt. Your funds are then placed in the Los Angeles central Western Union account along with all the other monies they have received during the day from all over Los Angeles. Each transfer request is logged electronically such that your specific amount is then sent off to the central Western Union account in London.
Once the funds are in a central account, the actual money can be picked up at any office covered by that account. Just because you were told to wire money to such-and-such a fellow at such-and-such a Western Union office does not mean he'll actually pick it up there. He can pick it up at an office clear across the city.
Western Union can verify that the fellow who picked up the money carried the specified identification. They might even be able to tell you what he looked like. This doesn't really do you much good. His identification can be phony as the day is long. All you know when you wired the funds is what you were told. Once your guy walks out of that office, there is absolutely nothing to bring him back, unlike your cousin in Oshkosh who has an open bank account. There is no way to trace him. He's gone. And in the case of a scam, so is your money.
Please read Western Union's Consumer Fraud Awareness page.
US Criminal Code, Title 18, Section 113
Sec. 472. - Uttering counterfeit obligations or securities
Whoever, with intent to defraud, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or with like intent brings into the United States or keeps in possession or conceals any falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
Sec. 473. - Dealing in counterfeit obligations or securities
Whoever buys, sells, exchanges, transfers, receives, or delivers any false, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, with the intent that the same be passed, published, or used as true and genuine, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
Sec. 479. - Uttering counterfeit foreign obligations or securities
Whoever, within the United States, knowingly and with intent to defraud, utters, passes, or puts off, in payment or negotiation, any false, forged, or counterfeited bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, or promise to pay, mentioned in section 478 of this title, whether or not the same was made, altered, forged, or counterfeited within the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
Sec. 480. - Possessing counterfeit foreign obligations or securities
Whoever, within the United States, knowingly and with intent to defraud, possesses or delivers any false, forged, or counterfeit bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, promise to pay, bank note, or bill issued by a bank or corporation of any foreign country, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
Legal Information Institute (LLI): US Code Collection, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 25 - Counterfeiting and Forgery