DALLAS August 19, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As students head back to school, MoneyGram (MGI), a leading global money transfer and payment services company, urges consumers to study up on common financial scams and scam artists who use promises of cheap rent or job offers to take advantage of college students.
According to the FBI, Americans lost more than $18.5 million in real estate rental scams last year alone, and college students are an easy target. Locating a space to live outside of school dorms can be a challenge, and many international and out-of-state students search for apartments online. Some may even reply to an advertisement and wire a deposit for a place they've never seen. Upon arrival, they discover the apartment was fake — the information was false — and their money is gone.
How do you avoid this mistake? "Never pay a deposit on an apartment you haven't seen in person," says Kim Garner, MoneyGram's senior vice president of global security. "This is a common trap for students who can't look at the rental property before they move to a new town. Our advice is to avoid leasing from someone who wants payment via money transfer. It's best to stay in a hotel for a few days and finish your apartment hunting after your arrival."
Another common scam solicits college students for in-home jobs through advertisements. The alleged employer will send a check to the student, claiming that it is a salary prepayment. The check is higher than the agreed-upon weekly salary amount, and the student is told to deposit the check, subtract the salary amount, and wire the extra money back to the fraudster. The check turns out to be a fake — and once the student has wired money, there's no way to recover the funds.
Students also are frequently targets of scholarship-focused scams. Fraudsters could require money in advance, requesting funds to apply to a scholarship competition, ask for an application fee, or charge a fee to subsidize a strangely low-interest loan. In all of these cases, any money sent is lost. Many scammers also offer fake scholarship prizes that can be retrieved after the student pays a fee, or they mail the recipient a fake scholarship check and request payment for services. Any fees paid are lost.
"A student should never be required to send someone money to obtain a loan or scholarship," Garner says. "Financial aid advisors and bank representatives can help you determine whether scholarships are legitimate. But the bottom line is to never wire or send money to someone you don't know or trust."
MoneyGram's back-to-school public awareness campaign is part of a larger company initiative to stop fraud. Since mid-2010, MoneyGram has helped prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in suspected fraud activity globally. The company has also taken a leadership position in consumer fraud education and is the founding member of the Scam Awareness Alliance, a nonprofit organization that provides information about scams. Consumers can learn more at scamawareness.org.
About MoneyGram International, Inc.
MoneyGram, a leading money transfer company, provides essential services to consumers who are not fully served by traditional financial institutions. MoneyGram offers worldwide money transfer services in more than 200 countries and territories through a global network of 345,000 agent locations, including retailers, international post offices and banks. MoneyGram also offers bill payment services, issues money orders and processes official checks in select markets.
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