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If someone asked you to mail them $200 in cash, would you do it? Probably not. Wiring money is just like sending cash in the mail. Once it’s gone, you probably won’t get it back — which explains why scammers tell you to pay that way. You’d think twice before mailing your hard-earned money — do the same thing before you wire money. Here’s what to know.

Scammers want your attention (and your trust) so they can ask you to wire money through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram. Some scammers weave a complex web of lies to get you to wire them money. They might find you on a dating app, earn your trust, and then say they have an emergency. That’s when they ask you to wire them money right away. And that’s a scam. Or a scammer might be lurking in a resale website where you posted an item for sale. They’ll “accidentally” overpay you — and “helpfully” suggest that you wire back the extra money. But that’s a scam. Always.

No matter what reason they give, never wire money to someone you haven’t met in person, who pressures you to pay immediately, or who says a wire transfer is the only way to pay. Only scammers ask you to do those things.

Already wired money to a scammer? You might feel embarrassed for losing money and for trusting them, but if you act fast, you might be able to get your money back:

Contact the wire transfer company or bank that you used to send the money right away. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer and ask them to reverse the wire transfer and refund your money. Then report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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