Watch out for this one

Apparently this scam is prevalent, in the Hayward area and beyond. Since the story ran, we’ve received numerous calls from people hearing variations on the same deal. They all said they nearly fell for it. One lady said the only reason she didn’t was because her grandson “was in jail before, so I just told him he can stay there.” A man said his grandson sounded “very distressed, in a panic … I couldn’t recognize his voice and barely could make out what he was saying.” At the last minute, he decided it would be prudent to check with his grandson’s girlfriend, who said that he was at work, like usual. Another woman said the scammers actually tell the victim that they shouldn’t tell Western Union people what the money is being wired for, because “Western Union doesn’t like getting involved with legal matters.”

Here are some tips to avoid being scammed, courtesy of Western Union:



The Western Union Money Transfer® service is a fast, convenient and reliable way for consumers to send money to people they know and trust. Consumers sending money to someone they don’t know, however, could be putting themselves at risk. Fraudsters are constantly developing creative and convincing ways to try to get consumers’ money, so one of the best ways to avoid being a victim is to be educated.


Together, Western Union and its consumers can create greater awareness of the many scams that take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. The following tips are designed to help consumers avoid becoming a victim of fraud.


Be cautious if …

  • You receive an unsolicited letter, email, or call at home or your mobile phone, offering an unrealistic price for expensive or hard-to-find merchandise.
  • You are the winning bid in an online auction and are dealing with individuals who only will accept money transfer as payment.
  • You receive a telephone call advising you have won a lottery or prize, but in order to collect you are required to prepay fees, taxes or shipping.
  • Someone responds to your ad claiming he or she has found your lost pet or jewelry and asks you to send money for shipping or a reward.
  • You receive a check that is made out for substantially more than the price of the merchandise you sold and are asked to transfer the difference back to the purchaser.
  • You are offered a low-cost loan, regardless of credit rating, on the condition that you pre-pay fees or the first few loan payments via money transfer.
  • You receive a call from someone claiming to be a police officer or hospital personnel requesting money for the bail or medical treatment of a loved one.
  • You are offered a “work-at-home” opportunity which requires you to receive money into your bank account and send it on to a third party.
  • The caller instructs you on how to respond to questions asked by Western Union.



  • Know whom you are sending money to.
  • Contact local law-enforcement officials if you are uncertain or suspicious of a telephone, mail or email solicitation.
  • Purchase merchandise from known, reliable and reputable sources.



  • We provide a money transfer service. It is not an escrow service and is not responsible for the quality or non-receipt of any goods or services purchased from a third party.
  • The “Test Question” feature is designed for emergency situations where the payee will not have proper identification. It should never be used as additional security to time or delay payment of a transaction.
  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Eric Kurhi