Don’t fall for this Western Union scam

James Ryan Jonas

Suppose you receive an email from an unknown sender telling you an outrageously huge amount of cash is waiting to be picked up by you in Western Union, what do you do?

a. Pray and thank God for this windfall gain
b. Rush to a Western Union branch to pick up your money
c. Delete the email

If you answered letter c, congratulations! You won’t be victimized by these Western Union scammers.

Here’s a copy of the email I received yesterday about this Western Union scam, a variation of the infamous 419 or Nigerian scam.


Sender: Peter Van Hansen <>

Dear Associate,

I just want to inform you that am on my way to New Zealand, I have just sent you the payment of goods you supplied me via Western union in your name as I do not have your account details correctly.

I also want you to have the payment information below:

Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN): 056-248-7412
Amount Sent: $375,000 USD
Text Question: Color ?
Answer: Green.
Sender Name : Peter Van Hansen.

You can go to any Western union location right now and pick up the cash . I hope that you have a Western Union Gold/Promo Card? You will need this to send or claim amount above $12,000 USD from any Western Union agent or location.

My company sent my team to New Zealand last week.

I am already on my way to join my team in completing the unfinished construction project in Christchurch, New Zealand.I may leave town tomorrow and I couldn’t go without dropping the payment information with you. We may spend 2 to 3 months there before the job would be completed.

Remember that if you do not claim the money before 9 days, they will call back the money to my card. And if you do not have the Western Union Gold/Promo Card, you cannot pick up the cash.

I may not be around to reply any of your emails now, since I will always be at the construction site but I will talk to you as soon as I return.

If you do not have a Western Union Gold/Promo Card, you may contact the western union postage department, with the agent details below so that they will provide a Western Union Gold/Promo Card for you immediately and also send you a copy of the voucher of the payment that I made, via email.

Contact the office below for your Western Union Gold/Promo Card:

Contact Person: Mrs. Susan Jefferson.

Send the requested details to him as indicated below:

Your Full Name:
MTCN number: (as above)
Address: (including state and zip code)

As soon as the office gets the above information, they will use the credentials to create your Western Union Gold/promo Card right away without any delay.

My best regards to you and your family,

Peter Van Hansen.


Why is this a scam? Because the moment you contact that “Mrs. Susan Jefferson” from the “Western Union Postage Department” to get your own Western Union Gold Card, they will surely ask you to send them a small amount of money as handling or processing fee.

After sending them payment, what happens? Nothing. Meaning, you won’t hear from them anymore and your money is gone. That’s the time you learn that you’ve officially been scammed.

FYI, the Western Union Gold Card is free and available in most branches of Western Union so there’s no need to contact “Mrs. Susan Jefferson” and definitely no need to shell out money.

In the first place, shouldn’t you wonder why someone will mistakenly give you $375,000? Are you really that lucky?

So there, make sure you don’t fall for this Western Union scam.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.