An Open Letter to Western Union, Moneygram and Moneypak

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I am beyond furious.

A loved one of mine was just scammed out of $2,000 that she can ill afford, being a recent college graduate struggling to find work and make her own way in the world.

She was stung by the “we’ll send you a check, please forward part of it to XXX for [insert reason here]” scam. She thought she was being offered a sweet job, and instead handed two grand to some scum-sucking, bottom-feeding, camel-raping lowlifes somewhere in the world.

And you are all complicit. You are confederate. You are equally guilty.

Oh, yes – I know your websites make all the right noises about never sending money to strangers, list all the scams, and provide all the required legal disclaimers. I’m here to tell you:

Watch this for the full hour. Perhaps it will sink in.

Your services are used by criminals worldwide to promote their nefarious schemes and take advantage of the gullible and the trusting with almost total impunity. And it needs to stop.

You need to be regulated in the same way as pawn shops. You need to take photographs and fingerprints of everyone who receives money from a transaction, and make this data available to law enforcement agencies, just like pawn shops.

Look at a summary of rules and regulations that the pawn industry (still thriving, in case you complain that this will put you out of business) must adhere to:

Federal rules:

  • USA Patriot Act, designed to stifle terrorism-related activities. For you, it means you can’t do any business with a pawnbroker unless you have a government-issued picture ID, like a driver’s license, and you may have to give a fingerprint
  • Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The pawnbroker has to explain to you clearly and in writing all of the terms of your loan, such as interest rate, fees, etc.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Safeguard and Privacy Rules to protect your personal information – including your name, address, phone number, and bank and credit card account numbers, etc.
  • Federal firearm laws, including record-keeping and background check requirements for buyers/sellers
    IRS rules on reporting cash transactions over $10,000

State rules:

  • Licensing and registration. In most states, pawnbrokers must apply for a license or register with a state agency – like the state consumer protection agency or state tax department. In some states, brokers need a license from the city or town where they do business
  • Interest rates and fees on loans are capped or limited in practically every state. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from 3 to 25 percent in interest on your loan. On top of that, most states let pawnbrokers charge a service fee in money (like $10) or interest (20 percent), each month
  • Records. Usually, pawnshops have to keep detailed records of everything they buy or take as collateral – serial and model numbers, brand name; precious metal type, gemstone description, etc.
  • Reporting. In some states, pawnshops have to give reports of their purchases to local police to help identify stolen goods. In other states, a shop has to honor your request to check their inventory for stolen goods if you give it a police report on your stolen property
  • Pawn tickets. If you take out a loan, the pawnbroker must give you a ticket showing what item you pawned, how long you have to repay, how much you have to repay, etc.
  • Grace periods. In some states, you’re automatically granted a grace period – usually 15 to 30 days – after your loan period expires. You have that additional amount of time to pay your loan and reclaim your property before the shop can sell your item.

You may think your army of industry lawyers and lobbyists will be enough to shield you from greater regulation designed to protect your clients, but don’t be fooled. The river of ill-gotten gains must be stopped, and you are direct participants in countless felonies.

You have been put on notice.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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