JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced a compensation fund Wednesday for Missourians who were tricked into sending payment to scammers using Western Union's wire transfer service.
"Getting scammed doesn't mean that you're not smart, it doesn't mean that you're not educated, it just means you got hit with the right message at the right time," Better Business Bureau regional director, Sean Spence, said.
The $586 million fund is a result of the settlement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Western Union. The fund is a part of the Department of Justice's Victim Asset Recovery Program.
“I am pleased that Missourians who were victims of scams will see their hard-earned money returned,” Hawley said. “My office will continue to fight for consumers and work to prosecute those who defraud Missourians.”
Victims are eligible for compensation if their fraud-induced transfer using Western Union occurred between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017.
Spence said scams effect all demographics of people in mid-Missouri.
"Scams specifically target older people, scams that particularly target younger people, scams that target veterans, scams that target women, the list is very, very long," he said.
Spence also said scams can be phone calls that sound like this:
"Oh grandmother, this is your grandson stuck in jail, and they're being horrible to me, would you go get a thousand dollars worth of gift cards from the drug store and meet somebody at a parking lot and pay them and they'll bail me out of jail with it. That happens. That happened down the street from me here in Columbia."
With the settlement, people all over the country will have the opportunity to get their money back.
"We've gone from a situation where people really had no hope at all of ever seeing money again, to 586-million dollars worth of people are going to get their money back," he said.
All completed claims forms must be mailed to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018.