By Kevin Deutsch
The Federal Trade Commission filed an amended complaint Friday aimed at bolstering its lawsuit against Walmart, which the FTC says allowed money transfer services used by scammers who fleeced consumers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The FTC filed the amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. According to the FTC, the complaint adds further details about Walmart’s alleged violations of the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, including the rule’s ban on the use of cash-to-cash money transfers in any telemarketing transaction.
According to the amended complaint, Walmart looked the other way for years while scammers took advantage of its failure to properly secure the money transfer services offered at Walmart stores. Walmart did not properly train its employees, failed to warn customers, and used procedures that allowed scammers to cash out at its stores, according to the FTC’s complaint.
Money transfers are frequently used by fraudsters across a wide variety of scams because they are nearly impossible to retrieve after the money has been picked up. The amended complaint cites numerous instances in which scammers relied on Walmart money transfers as a primary way to receive payments, including in telemarketing schemes such as sweepstakes scams, advance-fee loan scams, IRS impersonation schemes, relative-in-need “grandparent” scams, and others, according to the FTC.
The FTC’s investigation of Walmart’s money transfer practices showed, according to the complaint, that Walmart knew about the role money transfer services play in frauds and telemarketing schemes. Despite that, the company’s money transfer services allegedly harmed consumers in numerous ways.
Walmart’s alleged wrongdoing includes it allowing the payout of transfers that looked fraudulent, allowing cash pickups for large payments, not providing warnings to prevent consumers from sending payments related to scams and allowing money transfers to be used for telemarketing purchases that violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, according to the FTC.
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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