YORK COUNTY — If you have been taken in by a scam and used Western Union to send money  for “processing fees” for winning a lottery you never entered ,or some other  “too good to be true” win, you may be eligible for compensation from the company.

Many Mainers, including some in York County,  were taken in by scammers in recent years, most notably by people in Jamaica posing as lottery officials. The scammers promised delivery of a new car, hefty cash winnings and  more — but required “processing fees.”  Those who were taken in by the scam, often elderly indivuduals, sent  the “processing fees”  by Western Union, among other methods.

One York County woman lost about $80,000 to scammers. Beatrice Boucher who lived in Arundel at the time, spoke in 2012 about how she fell prey to the lottery scam in conjunction with York County Sheriff Bill King, who was a major at the sheriff’s office at the time. 

“They made me believe it,” said Boucher, explaining how the telephone scammers befriended her and called her several times a day. At one point, they arranged to have her phone number changed, so only they could speak with her for several days.

Boucher, who died in 2015, wasn’t the only Mainer to be taken in by the scammers.  An elderly woman in Cape Elizabeth lost $150,000 — and the list goes on and on. An elderly resident of the midcoast, who had been educated at Yale, lost everything, including his  home.

Now, those who were taken in and used Western Union to transfer money may be eligible for compensation.

Mainers who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer service between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 19, 2017 may now apply for compensation from a $586 million fund administered by the Department of Justice’s Victim Asset Recovery Program, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said in a statement.

Mainers who reported to the Maine Office of the Attorney General that they had been the victim of a scam using Western Union will receive a claim form in the mail in the coming weeks, which will contain instructions explaining how to file a claim for compensation, she said.

Those who  do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe they may have an eligible claim, visit http://www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124.

“I ask all Mainers who have been scammed out of money and were asked to use Western Union to make these fraud-induced payments to file for reimbursement from this fund,” said Mills. “I realize some may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam. You are not alone. Do not be embarrassed, please take this opportunity to get some of your money back. If you ever wire money, keep in mind that it’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask you to pay with a money transfer. Scammers love using money transfer services because once you send the money, it’s gone forever. So, if a telemarketer asks you to wire money, already you know they’re a crook.”

To receive restitution under the settlement, claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by Feb. 12

Mills encouraged folks with questions to reach out to the Consumer Protection Division of her office  at 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131 or through email  at: [email protected]

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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