LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — More than 1,200 Los Angeles residents were expected to receive checks in the mail starting Tuesday, thanks to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports the money comes following an investigation into scams that encouraged people to send cash through MoneyGram.
Approximately $3.1 million is being returned to victims in Southern California as part of a $100 million settlement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2012, according to Postal Inspector Shari Delaney.
According to court documents, from 2004 to 2009, MoneyGram violated U.S. law by processing thousands of transactions for agents known to be involved in an international scheme to defraud the public.
MoneyGram profited from the scheme by collecting fees and other revenues on the fraudulent transactions, according to federal prosecutors.
The scams – which generally targeted the elderly and other vulnerable groups – included posing as victims’ relatives in urgent need of money and falsely promising victims large cash prizes, various high-ticket items for sale over the Internet at deeply discounted prices or employment opportunities as “secret shoppers,” prosecutors said.
In each case, the perpetrators required the victims to send them funds through MoneyGram’s money transfer system.
As part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the Justice Department, MoneyGram admitted to criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud and failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, according to the DOJ.
“This is the just first wave of checks. There’s gonna be more because we’ve been getting the word out,” Delaney said. “Some people were slow to return the verification forms.”
Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by the MoneyGram scheme were urged to visit Justice.gov for instructions on how to request compensation.