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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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when are police powerless to stop western union - car scams

Resolved Question:

when are police powerless to stop western union - car scams and when are they not powerless. When can someone do it as their job every day without having to worry about going to jail?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 5 years ago.
Hi there Samantha,

Its not an issue of power, its an issue of controlling the scams from across the world. The scammers actually prey on people who unfortunately buy in to the idea of the purchase with all the completely non-traditional variables. The transactions end up being a one-way transfer "perceived exchange" but for some reason those who are unfortunately preyed upon don't understand that there are considerably more complex, AND simple ways, to purchase a vehicle.

The issue with the western union scams is that there is a relative timing issue of the banks involved as well as the difference in jurisdiction of say the police in the US and those from the African countries from which they typically originate. The thieves know that processing an account transfer is many times quicker than some money orders(despite the MO being only able to be purchased in cash - which again is the perception of actual money) but when they show up fake, then the transfers have already taken place. The thieves then close up and run to start a new scam with a new identity.

Couple that with the fact that the accounts are often closed immediately, as well as all the information on the "buyer" is usually false, the locations are constantly changing as well the actual schemes themselves. For as awful as it is - the police(of the relative country where its taking place from) would need to catch someone literally in the act as well as have some sort of evidence to even begin to process the person.

So its not like there is no "power" its the fact that the situations change so incredibly fast(basically they bait and run) that its nearly impossible to track them down until they start making mistakes. The people who control the scams have probably read into the facts of timing and have tested how the scams work.

People would need to worry less (if in potential situations to be scammed) when they stop giving their own money away in trade as well as actually taking their time and doing things the traditional way, thinking and working slowly is a much better way to actually not make mistakes.

So unfortunately its a situation of the person being scammed not actually knowing(and not asking for advice), the scammers targeting those who are unaware, and law enforcement simply not near, around or aware these are going on until its too late - and by then they thieves have packed up and moved on to new "identities" with new accounts in new locations. Its really unfortunate, but thats how these continue to be an issue for innocent people.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
why doesn't western union post pictures of everyone who is a suspected fraud? And just so you know the question was about car scam like off of ebay classifieds, not any other types of western union car scams.
Do these frauds ever go back to the same western union and just claim that they legally changed their name when asked why their name is XXXXX XXXXX the last time that they were there?
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 5 years ago.
Hello again Samantha,

My apologies for the delay and thank you for the addition info. Unfortunately the freedoms of certain countries, even the US and Canada, are often those that protect people. Until there is real proof of each scammer they couldn't just go and catch a 'suspected' thief just by posting pictures. Western union wouldn't be able to have much involvement because in the case of receiving the money you literally only need to show ID - but considering how IDs are so easily faked, many situations are hopeless. Unless they had equipment to verify legitimacy of identifications and were able to hold someone until a fraud claim came through. This is how they prey so successfully; they know there are too many loose ends and multiple "outs" so to speak and they prey on the fact that alot of consumers aren't aware of how actual escrow companies work and that real companies do not ask for money before receiving money.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
what constitutes real proof? Assume its ebay classifieds that the car ads are being put up and that the fraud is in toronto, the victim, in usa. Suppose that the fraud uses a socks proxy and that they never make the mistake of having their ip address revealed. What can police do to catch this person. Can they go to locations where the fraud is know to have gone to and ask the clerk to call them next time that the fraud calls that location asking to have the money prepared for same day pick up. How are these frauds usually caught?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
if the fraud uses the same fake address on the on the fake id that they present to the clerks whenever they go to a wu location to commit the fraud, then can the police somehow find out that the fraud always uses the same fake address on the fake id and call around other locations asking them to immediately call them the moment that they have a customer come to them that presents an id with this same address. This wouldn't have to involve showing a picture of the suspect, thereby, according to you, violating the rights and freedoms of the suspected fraud. Do these frauds ever have a reason to go back to the same location that they went to months before so that they don't need to move around place to place in search of new locations to commit their frauds at?
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 5 years ago.
Well according to most higher profile cases it would need proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Like most fraud cases, they would need a connection between the scammer and the actual scam itself. In cases like these its going to depend on the local(to both) durisdiction as well as the appropriate escalation of authorities. You need to get in touch with local authorities to have a clear cut idea of what the international boundaries and limits are between the US and Canada though because obviously its a different situation than something within the US.

Point is that "smart" frauds change their locations more than fast enough and are well aware of the "safety"(relative of course) of international boundaries as well as the fact that without undeniable proof of them actually scamming, they are relatively "safe". The frauds are usually caught, judging by a majority of the situations when they are lured and busted.

For example there was a show on in the US, I believe it was 20/20 where they actually lured baited a few scammers, flew across the ocean to the UK and played into the situation, caught him in the act and got him to admit to it, but many of them weren't actually brought into custody.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The frauds are usually caught, judging by a majority of the situations when they are lured and busted.----how could this happen to someone who is just sitting in their toronto appartment and posting ads for a car that doesn't exist, trying to get people that they send emails to to give them a money transfer control number so that they can pick up the money, protected by the use of an open proxy. How could this person get caught?
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 5 years ago.
Hi there Samantha,

Many scams of various types are caught in sting operations where law enforcement intentionally bait and bust these people. The correspondence and execution of certain things is clear intent of what they are trying to do and the scammer unless they know what the police are trying to do would be unable to actually tell if its a potential victim or a sting. The proxy would obviously hide their location presumably but upon reception of the funds would be the 'nail in the coffin' so to speak where the person would be caught for the scam, after that the correspondence would be the clear proof. Though really sending random emails doesn't show much at all as anyone is really allowed to send email about anything to whoever they want.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
that doesn't make any sense -- as soon as the fraud picks up money that the police gave him a mtcn for, he would leave from the location that he has randomly chosen and by the time police find out where the money was picked up from he would be gone. So that doesn't make any sense.
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 5 years ago.
Thats the point of a sting. While I am not an interpol officer considering the relative "flexibility" of a criminal, there is equal flexibility on a sting operation, obviously in some cases there are drawbacks of it but thats the idea - to catch the person. The money order in most cases has to be picked up in the same city not an entirely different country so there are only so many places where the MO can be picked up. There is nothing saying western union or any other place wouldn't be informed of the money order scam is there?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
wouldn't the criminal take cash money from the western union instead of a money order because can't a money order by traced to where it was deposited?
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 5 years ago.
Of course cash makes more sense as its hard to follow but what im getting at is that they would catch the person on-site simply because the sting would set it up.