Category Archives: Fraud and Scams

Sending money from Brazil with Perfect Money?

A reader named Alberto Miranda wrote:


Gostaria de saber se: pode me ajudar – Criei uma
conta em Perfect Money e preciso enviar pelo menos 200 dólares sacando do meu
Visa internacional. É possível? E como devo proceder se minha moeda é o Real
do Brasil? – Aguardo sugestão. Obrigado – Alberto Miranda

I ran this through Google Translate and got the following translation from the Portuguese:

I wonder if can help me – I created a
Perfect Money account and must send at least $ 200 of my whipping
Visa International. Is it possible? And what should I do if my currency is the Real
Brazil? – I await suggestions. Thanks – Alberto Miranda

Short Answer:

Perfect Money logo.
Perfect Money logo.

Alberto, it doesn’t look like you can fund your Perfect Money account with a Visa card. You need to do a bank transfer, or convert from another digital currency like WebMoney. You could also try an alternative e-currency service like Paypal (the leader in the field).

Long Answer:

I had actually never heard of Perfect Money, so I looked them up.

Perfect Money ( is apparently an e-currency or digital currency provider registered in Panama and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. They also offer currency conversion and prepaid cards.

Digital currencies are accepted by some legitimate businesses, though not many. Mostly they are used to pay contractors and buy products from individual sellers. They are popular among online criminals (drug dealers, scammers, hackers) because they do not require any form of identity verification.

Many of the clients of Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve – which was known for catering to cybercriminals and was shut down when the founder was arrested on money laundering charges – have migrated to Perfect Money. In an apparent bid to avoid investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, Perfect Money declared in a release on their website that they would not accept user registrations from the United States.

That’s not to say that Perfect Money’s service is not legitimate. By all appearances it is. Here’s some specific information on the service, taken from their website and other sources:

Deposit fees
Wire from 1.5%
At market rate
Added to balance: 4% per year
Internal 0.5%
Withdrawal fees
Wire transfer from 3.75% + bank fee
Security fees
SMS Notification $0.1
Annual Service $0
Account Restoration $100

So if you use Perfect Money to send money to someone else with a Perfect Money account, the company takes 0.5%. That could be quite low or quite high, depending on how much  money you’re sending. On the whole it’s a very reasonable fee.

You can deposit funds into your Perfect Money account by the following means:

1) If you have some other electronic currency you can exchange it for Perfect Money currency.

2) Bank transfer: Minimum sum of deposit is $300 USD.

You can withdraw funds from Perfect Money by the following means:

1) Exchange for any other electronic currency (for example, PayPal) and then withdraw in any exchange office in your city.

2) Bank transfer to your account via exchange offices that are partners of Perfect Money. I would not recommend that you withdraw on your bank account directly via Perfect Money. In my opinion, the system charges too high a commission for such a service.

3) Cash transfer via Western Union and MoneyGram.

If any readers have experience with Perfect Money, I would love to hear about it. Did you find it easy to use? Did you have any problems? Was it affordable?

Risks and Benefits of Mobile Money Transfers

By Renee D. for

You can send money online through your computer, or, more often nowadays, through your cell phone. When you compare the money transfer process for computers and cell phones, you find certain common risks and benefits.

However, there are also unique aspects of handling finances using a cell phone, which is why it is so important to learn about necessary precautionary measures. Although people have been using mobile devices to transfer money for years, there are still questions and concerns raised.


Sending money with a mobile phone.
Sending money with a mobile phone.

The first thing we wanted to address is the benefits of money transfers whether using a computer or cell phone. Sending and receiving money has also been an option for years although initially, it was businesses that took advantage of this service.

However, there are now just as many individuals completing money transfers as there are businesses thanks to the increase of eCommerce websites, as well as auction sites such as eBay, but also high-tech mobile devices.

Before the potential risks associated with mobile money transfers can be fully understood or appreciated, we felt it important to provide a few of the key benefits that a service such as this provides.

  1. Ease of Use – While some systems can be a little challenging to navigate, most are extremely easy. In fact, sending and/or receiving money can usually be done in about five or six simple steps, whether using a computer or phone. o Fast – Most people are surprised at how fast most transfer services are, especially compared to similar services provided by a more conventional financial institution. While it could take slightly longer for an international transaction to complete over one on a national level, the process overall is quick and seamless.
  2. Exchange Rates – Another benefit of using mobile money transfers or those with a computer for international business is that exchange rates are quoted in real time.
  3. Low Fees – It is common for fees to be charged with any money transfer. For example, companies have a standard processing fee for services rendered but in addition, any intermediary or foreign bank involved in the transaction could also impose a fee. However, even with fees being charged, money transfers are cost-efficient compared to other means of sending and receiving money.
  4. Safe – Typically, companies that offer money transfer services have the latest and greatest security measures in place. After all, if customers begin to experience loss, the company would fail so everything possible would be done to protect a person’s information and ensure every transaction completes as scheduled.

Two of the greatest benefits specific to mobile money transfers only are privacy and mobility. By using a cell phone, money transfers and other financial tasks can be performed at home in privacy and comfort. Because so many people work hard to protect personal and financial information but also due to an increased risk for identity theft, having the ability to complete financial business at home is appealing.

The second benefit of flexibility is something that people also appreciates. With this, a financial transaction could be completed while in public without anyone knowing. As an example, using a mobile device, an individual could send or receive money while at dinner, in a business meeting, or sitting in a movie theater, among other things and again, with on one nearby being the wiser.

Potential Risks

Along with all the benefits that go hand-in-hand with mobile money transfers are some risks that need to be considered. The following risks are just a few of the things that could go wrong with mobile money transfers.

  1. Handset Incompatibility – To complete financial transactions via mobile device, the handset must be compatible with the service. Today, virtually every telecommunication company sells one or more phones capable of handling money transfers but an individual should check requirements for any company being considered for a service such as this prior to a transaction being started. o Network Coverage – The mobile network would need to be capable of handling a significant amount of traffic but also provide high speed service. Although not an issue in North America, there could be challenges when trying to send or receive money in developing countries.
  2. Hackers – Even with state-of-the-art security measures in place, there are still professional hackers that tap into cell phones to capture all types of information to include both personal and financial.
  3. Fraud – Scam artists recognize the increase of mobile money transfers and as such, have devised new schemes to con people out of money. Unfortunately, people still get caught up in fraudulent acts every day even with all the education provided to the public.
  4. Lost Device – The bottom line is that it is much easier to lose a cell phone than it is a computer. Mobile device owners are always reminded to use or install the most current software to block access to financial websites but also keep personal information locked or hidden. Even taking all the precautionary measures possible, a lost device could end up in the hands of the wrong person.

Western Union does not compensate for fraud

A reader named Kal Kerger sent me the following message:

I sent $125 USD to china to buy some t-shirts & hats. Never heard from the guy. When I complained to W.U., I was told too bad and report it to the Police. I’m in Canada and I ‘m a retired cop and I know that’s not going to happen.

Is W.U. going to do anything about frauds? At least with PayPal they cover u 100%.

Also I would love to do Mastercard with W.U. from my house, but they only accept American credit cards. Can something be done about that?

Online fraud
Protect yourself from fraud by online sending money to someone you know and trust.

I contacted Western Union and asked them, “What is Western Union’s policy on fraud? Is there no form of compensation for one who has been defrauded?”

A Western Union rep named Carrie C. replied as follows:


Thank you for contacting Western Union. We are writing regarding your inquiry.

Western Union does not offer an escrow service or any type of “purchase protection” policy. We do not hold the funds until the merchandise is received and/or inspected. Western Union’s business is to transfer funds from a sender to a receiver within minutes. 

We caution our customers against sending money to people they do not know. It is the senders responsibility to know the party to which the funds are being sent. If a receiver presents proper identification, payment will be made. Western Union is under no obligation to replace the funds lost when the product or service is not provided. 

We strongly suggest you contact our Fraud Department at 1-800-448-1492 and your local law enforcement to report this incident. Western Union also advises you to report any incident of suspected fraud from an Internet website to the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC)

Please consider that Western Union is unable to do any criminal prosecution. If you wish to pursue this individual through legal channels, we recommend you to start legal proceedings.

Best regards,

The Western Union Customer Care Team

So it seems that Western Union does not compensate for fraud of any kind. If you’re going to send a Western Union transfer to someone you don’t know, whether to purchase a product or hire someone to perform a service, make sure that it’s someone with an established reputation and positive recommendations from others.

Regarding the other question, Kal is correct, you can only fund a Western Union transfer with your credit card if the card is issued by an American bank. Otherwise you have to pay cash or from your bank account.

– Wael

Young People Getting Scammed Online

Victim of an online scam
Sophie lost £400 in an online scam and says she was really upset

Debbie Randle at the BBC online’s Newsbeat has discovered that more and more young people looking for somewhere to rent are being conned out of thousands of pounds in online scams. Trading Standards say there’s been a big rise in the number of would-be tenants falling for it and websites like Gumtree and Craigslist aren’t doing enough to protect them.

The Scam

These scams are getting more and more clever. The fraudsters work hard to gain the trust of those people asking about their flats and houses. In one of the newer scams you’re asked to prove you have enough money by transferring some via a company like Western Union or Moneygram. If you’re not happy about sending it to them, then you can send it to someone you trust, like a mate. You email the fraudster a copy of the receipt, but before you know it they’ve posed as your mate and made off with the cash.

The BBC posed as a tenant and emailed a few ads that looked a bit too good to be true. Within a few hours we’d had a number of replies. You can follow one case by clicking here:

Flat Scam Emails

Sophie’s Story

Twenty-three year-old Sophie moved down to London from Birmingham. But it hasn’t been an easy move.

She spotted the first flat she wanted online. It looked great – two bedrooms, in a nice safe area of London and all at a bargain price of £85 per week.

There wasn’t enough time to go and view it so after a few e-mails with the ‘landlady’ Sophie decided she trusted her enough to wire over some cash.

But £400 later, the money had gone, and so had the flat.

Sophie was scammed online by fraudsters posing as landlords
Sophie and her mum were more careful with the next flat.

“Even after I transferred the money I was wondering if I should tell her all the details to pick it up, but I just really needed somewhere and really quick so that’s why I did.

“I was really upset and kind of mostly annoyed. Looking back it’s so obvious. But when you need something really quick. It’s just horrible that people can do that.”

Sophie was more careful with the next flat. She and her mum Sue have already been down to view it before move-in day.

It’s not exactly what she wanted, she’ll be sharing her room with two other mates. They have a single bed and a chest of drawers each, and there’s a sofa in the middle of the room.

“I am quite happy here and with the situation. So I don’t feel like I’ve lost out , because in a way it’s better being with your friends.

“I think ideally it would have a bit more space because there’s three of us in here, but it will be fine. It’ll be just like a little holiday for us so it will be quite fun.”

Do Websites Do Enough?

Trading Standards say they’re getting very worried about the scale of these scams, and want websites like Gumtree and Craigslist to do more to stop it. This includes more warnings on their sites and more vetting of the adverts to make sure bogus adverts are not posted in the first place.

They also want the money transfer companies Western Union and Moneygram to have more security in place to stop the fraudsters getting their hands on the money.

And They Say:

Craigslist says it uses a wide array of technological and staff measures to suppress scam attempts. Scams that do reach the site are generally quickly identified and removed by user flagging.

Gumtree says it takes it very seriously. It always does its best to protect users online and the vast majority have a safe and successful experience. Their dedicated safety section, as well as the rotating safety tips on the Gumtree homepage and across the site, strongly advise all users to never wire or send money using money transfer services.

Spareroom says it’s not as big a problem on its site as they’ve taken active steps to tackle it. It’s employed someone full time just to look out for these kind of scams. It also monitors every advert sent in.

Moneygram place warnings on their send forms and website and provide warnings when customers contact the call centre. It works with law enforcement agencies around the world to keep up to date on new scams and the latest fraudulent activities.

Western Union includes consumer protection information at virtually every touchpoint with consumers. This includes when people send funds over the phone and in physical locations at the point of sale. Agents are taught about the various types of fraud and watch for behaviour that may indicate a consumer is at risk.