On January 19, 2017, Western Union admitted to processing hundreds of thousands of transactions for many different global fraud schemes over the past dozen years, including online gambling. It is now stuck with a $586 million federal penalty for allowing illegal transactions to take place with online gambling operations in Costa Rica. These dealings violated U.S. federal anti-money laundering laws, which are not taken lightly.
In the investigations of Western Union, many forms of fraud were exposed, but illicit online gambling transactions were among the most prevalent. It was uncovered that many of those transactions supported a human trafficking ring operated out of China between 2004-2012.
The Western Union was originally a New York telegraph company in the 1800s. With advances in technology, Western Union has changed its services to now be a top global financial service provider and communications company. In 2007 it introduced its mobile money transferring services. Within the online gambling niche, WU almost exclusively handles their wire transfers.
With the introduction of mobile apps, anyone, anywhere in the world, can send money to their online casino account with ease. These transactions are relatively pain-free, without worrying about transaction fees and they are quickly processed. While credit and debit cards are practically instantaneous, people often choose the Western Union to avoid a financial trail. Transactions do not require account holders to reveal any sensitive financial information to third parties.
Lastly, after being around for well over 100 years, Western Union has opened terminals all across the globe, making online casino deposits easy to work with in all locations.
Enabling these illicit transactions to take place means having more consequences than just the federal multi-million dollar penalty. Western Union share prices have dropped 3.3% since the information was published and it announced to shareholders that it anticipated losses of $570 million over its 2016 Q4 results due to costs and fees associated with the whole agreement.
The Western Union has said it has updated its anti-fraud technology and also designed a “fraud risk management unit” to concentrate on furthering efforts with internal investigations of users. In response to investigations, Western Union also doubled its compliance staff over the past 5 years.
In an attempt at recovery from the money laundering scandal, Western Union’s financial transactions will be monitored in the future. It agreed to have an independent compliance auditor review all transactions for at least the next three years. It has also been revealed that the compliance may be related to a previously undisclosed investigation launched by FinCEN, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network.
The Western Union and all online gambling transactions are under fierce watch and can have incredibly severe consequences. A safer option for Sacramento area residents is to come into Sacramento’s #1 poker room, Capitol Casino, for all your gambling needs. Do yourself a favor and avoid getting personally wrapped up in all legal trouble.