How Can I Recover Money From a Scammer?

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Every year, more and more people fall prey to scams. Data from the Federal Trade Commission shows that in 2021, consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud. That’s a 70% increase from 2020. Imposter scams are the most common scams, followed by online shopping scams.

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What does one do if they’re bamboozled out of money by a con artist? Is it possible to get one’s money back? Though there’s no guarantee, there are a number of steps consumers can and should take to try and recover money stolen by scammers.

Credit Or Debit Card Charges

If you paid with a credit or debit or credit card, immediately contact the company or bank and inform them of the fraudulent charges. They should be able to reverse the transaction so that the money isn’t lost.

Unauthorized Transfer

If a malicious actor made an authorized transfer from your bank account, you’ll again want to contact your bank and let them know that you did not make the debit or withdrawal and ask for your money back.

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Gift Card

If a fraudulent purchase was made with a gift card, call the company that issued the card and ask for a refund. Be sure to hang on to the gift card (whether physical or digital), as well as the gift card receipt.

Wire Transfer

If money was stolen through a wire transfer via a company such Western Union, Ria or MoneyGram, get in immediate touch with the wire transfer company and report the fraudulent transfer and request your money back.

Did you send a wire transfer through your bank? Call your bank and report the fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.

A Money Transfer App 

If you were scammed through Zelle, Venmo or another money transfer app, call the company and report the fraud and request a reversal. Then call the bank or credit card company that is linked to the money transfer app and do the same. If you authorized the Zelle or Venmo payment, however, it is unlikely you will receive your funds back.

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Cryptocurrency is a lot trickier. If you were scammed out of crypto, you likely won’t get your money back. The only way to be refunded is if the person you paid sends the money back to you. That said, it’s still worth contacting the company that you used to send the crypto funds and request a reverse transaction.

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If you were scammed out of cash, you could be out of luck — but not necessarily. If you sent cash via U.S mail, call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (877-876-2455) and ask for the package to be intercepted. You can ask the same of UPS, FedEx or whichever mail service you used to send the cash.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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