Financial Advice

How to Spot a Money Wiring Scam

How to Spot a Money Wiring Scam

Wire transfers and online payments are excellent ways to transfer funds to individuals and businesses. However, digital payments are immediate and irreversible, and scammers frequently use them in money fraud schemes.

What Are Wire Transfer Scams?

A wire transfer scam happens when scammers pose as an authoritative body like a bank, colleague, or family member and pressure victims into wiring them money.

Scammers often quickly withdraw money from wire transfer scams, making them usually irreversible. With the rise in digital banking, wire transfers happen instantaneously. Scammers transfer the stolen money into another account and disappear before the victim can cancel or recover it.

Types of Wire Transfer Scams

Here are some examples of money-wiring scams.

  • Real estate wire scams: While purchasing or refinancing a property, scammers posing as mortgage agents may ask you to wire money based on fraudulent instructions received via email.
  • Fake check scams: Scammers use counterfeit checks to get your money.
  • Overpayment scams: Fake buyers can claim overpayment and ask to be refunded.
  • Fees for fraudulent lottery winnings: Fraudsters ask for money or financial details, claiming you have won the lottery.
  • Advance-fee scams in fake loans: Fake loan scams lure victims with promises of a guaranteed loan.
  • Family emergency scams: Scammers impersonate family members and ask you to pay for a family emergency.
  • Rental apartment and home scams: Scammers post fake rental listings and con renters into wiring money before they visit the property.

How Does a Wire Transfer Scam Play Out?

In a typical wire transfer scam,

  • Fraudsters send phishing messages and ask for money through wire transfers. Sometimes, they may even hack into online conversations to redirect payments.
  • The victim, believing the transfer is legitimate, sends money even if the recipient's account details differ.
  • The money gets wired directly into the scammer's account.
  • Since online wire transfers are instant, the scammer gains immediate access to the funds.
  • Once the money moves to the scammer's account and the payment is processed, it becomes impossible to retrieve the funds.

Warning Signs of a Wiring Scam

Money-wiring scams are easy to spot if you recognize the red flags. Don't wire money in the following circumstances.

  • Scammers create realistic websites to sell products online and attempt to defraud people by requesting wire transfer payments.
  • You receive an unexpected request to send money from people posing as friends or colleagues.
  • Scammers that ask you to send money to an international country for a cause.
  • They'll tell you won a prize and need to pay a fee to receive it.
  • Scammers ask you to send money quickly in private without informing anyone.
  • People asking you to make payment using a suspicious email.
  • Scammer communicating through a teletypewriter while masking their voice.
  • Someone pays you through gift cards, cryptocurrency, or P2P apps.
  • The individual asking for payment refuses to communicate via phone.

What to Do if You Wired Money

If you are a victim of a wire transfer scam, you must:

  • Inform your bank quickly and provide them with transfer details.
  • Ask your bank to contact the recipient's bank's fraud department, which can freeze the funds in the recipient's account.
  • Report identity theft at if you have compromised personal information.
  • Share details of the scam with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Make a report with your local police department or FBI field office.


With the increase in the popularity of digital banking, money-wiring scams have made an enormous comeback.

If you are a victim of a money-wiring scam, you have a small window when you can reverse the transfer. Protecting your online money transfers can save you from online financial threats.

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