Wire Transfer Scams — What You Need to Know


When you need to send money to someone you trust, you can do so in many different ways at Pinnacle Bank, such as Zelle, Bill Pay and wire transfers. But if someone requests funds from you and mandates that you use wire transfers to do so, that’s likely a sign of fraud.

Common Wire Fraud Scams

Wire transfer fraud has become more prevalent over the past several years. Let’s take a look at some of the common ways it occurs:

Fake Check.

You receive a check saying you’ve won a prize, encouraging you to deposit the check. Then, they ask you to wire money back to cover taxes and fees. Another fake check scam occurs when you receive an assignment to evaluate a wire transfer service as a mystery shopper, and all you have to do is use the service. And finally, you may get notified that you received a job you applied for, and the “company” asks you to wire money immediately to pay for your initial supplies (which they’ll reimburse in your first paycheck).

Family Emergency.

When you receive a call from someone stating they need cash for an emergency and ask you to wire the money right away. For example, someone pretends to call from the police department and tells a grandparent to wire $10,000 immediately to bail a grandchild out of jail.

Apartment Rental.

You’re searching for an apartment, and you find a perfect option with very low rent. Before you check out the apartment, the rental company asks you to wire money to cover your application fee or security deposit to secure the apartment for you. 


Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites or apps and strike up a relationship with unsuspecting people to establish trust. As time progresses, they ask these victims to help them out of a jam by wiring money.

How to Protect Yourself

Don’t wire money to:

    • Anyone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
    • Any person or any company when you didn’t initiate the contact (whether over the phone or the internet, by email or in-person).
    • Any person stating to be from a Government agency, asking you to wire money to pay off debt or taxes and threatening negative recourse if you don’t do so quickly.
    • Don’t wire money to anyone who pressures you to pay immediately.
    • Any person or entity that says a wire transfer is the only way you can make a payment.
What to Do If You’ve Been a Victim

Unfortunately, most scammers know that wire transfers are difficult to trace. But if you sent money using a wire transfer company (MoneyGram or Western Union), contact them immediately to try to reverse the transfer and get back your money. If you used your bank, such as Pinnacle Bank, contact us immediately to report the fraudulent transfer and stop payment on the wire transfer.

Additionally, it’s imperative to report any wire transfer scam to the FTC so they can follow up on the fraud and stop it — report it here.


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