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What to do about threats from scammers



For our flow chart of a Payment Processing Scam, visit our partner site .NextWebSecurity

Payment Processing Schemes Flowchart


Western Union and MoneyGram were designed to send money to friends and family, not to send money to strangers.

Once the money is picked up, it is gone forever.




The Truth vs. The Scam: Payment Processing, Re-shipping, Forwarding Scams


Work at home processing or reshipping checks, money orders, envelopes, and/or merchandise; receiving money wired into your account; writing checks on somebody else's account; secret shopper jobs; forwarding cash received in a package, by mail, by Western Union or MoneyGram; and receiving credit cards or gift cards from a foreign employer or someone you met online.


Payment Processing schemes and scams are operated by fraudsters who specialize in money laundering.  Funds and credit card information are stolen through ID Theft and laundered using unwitting victims.  The laundered money goes to fund a luxurious lifestyle and to further other crimes.

The approach:






The schemes:

  • Processing payments for:

Products or services



Bad Debt payments (collection service)

  • Reship packages / merchandise / envelopes / checks and money orders

  • Re-wire Western Union or MoneyGram payments

  • Receive money wired into your bank or credit card account

  • Write & sign checks on accounts you did not open

  • Work as a Secret Shopper

  • Forward cash received in a package or by mail

  • Receive credit cards or gift cards from a foreign employer or someone you met online

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THE SCAM: Overview

You receive an email stating that a business is seeking agents to process payments for them.  It claims that the business has customers in your country and bordering countries and they want you to collect payments from their customers and send them the money.

You receive an email asking you to receive monies for a charity and forward the money to the charity.

The above emails ask that you provide personal information such as name, address, and contact information.  Sometimes you are asked to provide driver's license, social security, or other identity paper numbers and maybe a copy of your passport.

The emails contain foreign phone numbers and email extensions not associated with a company such as @yahoo or @gmail or other public web based email service.

During a relationship correspondence, you are asked to receive and forward money or packages for any number of reasons, and you may be asked to accept a credit card or gift card and forward the money from it, or buy merchandise and ship it to another address.

As part of your job you are asked to write checks on bank accounts other than your own.  You may be asked to buy check writing equipment and materials.  You are asked to mail the checks to various addresses by standard mail. Or you may be asked to use FedEx or UPS to mail a batch of checks with or without addressed and stamped envelopes.

As part of your job you are asked to be a Secret Shopper reviewing Western Union or MoneyGram offices by receiving and and re-wiring money.

Payments are received in one of several ways:

  • Money deposited into your bank account

  • Checks and/or money orders mailed to you

  • Money waiting at Western Union or MoneyGram

You are asked to receive or deposit checks or money into your bank account, deduct a percentage for your services (traditionally 5% to 20% commission) and wire the money to another person, and sometimes more than one person, but not to a company account.  You are told the commissions you earn are tax free.

Packages are received at your home via a standard carrier - UPS, FedEx, Post Office, or an independent delivery service.  You are asked to reship the packages using FedEx, UPS, or DHL account numbers.

It is impossible to give an example of every approach.  What is important is what your are being asked to do, not who is asking you to do it.

This page: 1. The Scam | Next, The Truth: 2. Overview 3. Forwarding packages and/or payments 4. Money wired into your account & re-wiring Western Union or MoneyGram payments 5. Writing checks and forwarding checks and sealed envelopes 6. Secret Shopper jobs and forwarding cash 7. Receiving credit cards or gift cards


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