For many, Western Union money transfers are a very viable form of payment for sending cash and other financial obligations. This trusted and longstanding company is one which most people would place trust and confidence in the safety of their transactions. This may may be one reason Western Union was targeted as an avenue for scam artists to target yet another innocent victim.
In a report obtained from Highland Police officer Jeremy Stevens, he said he was called to the Highland Town and Country July 27 by manager Jonathan Harmon in regard to a potential scam involving the store's Western Union money transfer service.
Stevens said Harmon had become concerned about a Highland area resident when she came into the store to send a second money transfer in the amount of $850 to a person overseas. The victim had first sent $2,500 July 21 to Jerry Boykin and Andrea Anderson in Boykin, Texas.
Stevens said following the interview with the victim and her husband, they informed him they had been speaking with the perpetrators over the phone over a period of time. The victim said she was first contacted by a subject identified as Michael Marshall from Wells Fargo Bank. She said he informed her she had won a million dollars and would be awarded the money following her sending a processing fee of $2,500. She sent the money July 21 to the man and woman in Texas as instructed.
The victim was then contacted to send an additional $850 to a man named Linval Scott for shipping and processing of the million dollars. When she went to send the money from the Highland Town and Country, Harmon became concerned and called the Highland Police Department. Stevens responded and then contacted the victims and Western Union regarding the incident. Stevens said he hoped to locate the person who collected the money in Texas. A representative from the company refused to give him information on the transfer until the victim filed a fraud report. Stevens said he had given the victim the information in which to file the fraud report.
Phone scams are becoming more and more prevalent, perhaps due in part to the slow economy or how hard the crimes are to trace.
Advice on the Arkansas Attorney General's Web site suggests contacting them if solicited by a phone scam that involves the exchange of money for a prize or any other suspected scam that sounds as if it is too good to be true.
The investigation is still open pending further investigation.