Counterfeit MoneyGram Money Orders seem to be surfacing all over the place, again! Here is what I wrote about them the last time I posted on them:

Recently, MoneyGram removed the Travelers Express name from their money order product. The new version is branded simply as MoneyGram, printed in Spanish (Espanol) in addition to English.

The old version with the Travelers Express name have been counterfeited and circulated via Internet scams for a couple of years. A lot of them had Walmart’s logo printed on them. We’ve seen similar counterfeit American Express Gift Cheques and Postal Money Orders in recent years, also. Some of these items are still in circulation, including the older Travelers Express version.

For a long time, the counterfeiters seemed to prefer using a Walmart logo. Some of them even came with a letter from Walmart Financial Services.

The newer version, I saw on Friday bear a CVS Pharmacy logo and they are being distributed in lower dollar amounts. Presumably, the high dollar amounts $700.00 and over were being looked at too closely by financial institutions.

Not sure, but they could be starting to use a variety of logos to make them look legitimate. If anyone reading this has seen different, please add a comment to let everyone know.

The newer items seem to be in denominations of $500.00 or less.

These items normally are obtained when a person gets involved in a too good to be true financial scheme, or is solicited by a beautiful woman (or man) needing to be rescued from a foreign locale. This normally occurs on the Internet.

Here are some examples of the lures used to pass these items, along with links to old posts:

Some of these lures include, but aren’t limited to (new lures surface frequently), secret shopper, romance, lottery, work-at-home and auction scams.

Sadly enough, the lowering of the dollar amount seems to have had limited success because I am getting reports that some of these items have been cashed at financial institutions.

The saddest part of all of this is (from an earlier post):

A common denominator in most of the scams is that there will be a request to send the proceeds, minus your paltry cut (normally via wire transfer) back to the person sending you the instruments. That is (unless) they are buying goods from you. In this case, your property is what they want you to send to them.

In other words, if the item is cashed at a financial instiution, when it comes back as a counterfeit — they will hold you and YOU ALONE liable.

Even sadder, people are also getting arrested for passing them. When counterfeit instruments started getting passed in Internet scams, the financial institutions were a lot more forgiving. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore with the amount of losses being taken out there.

More and more often, criminals pretend to be victims and pass the items. I call these people, “reverse scammers” because they have no intention of wiring any money back to the original scammer.

If you are a true victim, I recommend taking to the good folks at FraudAid, who advocate for the people that are really victims. The key is being able to show all the correspondence, along with proof that money was actually wired. If you kept the money from the transaction, it is going to be hard claiming “victim status.”

The best way to avoid getting scammed is to call and verify the item at MoneyGram, itself. This can be done by calling 1-800-542-3590. In almost (although not always in theory) all cases, this call will reveal the item as a counterfeit.

MoneyGram money orders aren’t the only instruments being counterfeited. Counterfeit cashier’s checks, money orders, gift and travelers cheques are also being counterfeited and used in these types of scams.

If you want to learn more about these scams, I recommend going to fakechecks.org, who has some great videos illustrating the scams used to pass these items.

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