Nick Rees Oct. 21, 2013, 6:15pm

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced Friday the establishment of a national fund meant to aid victims of MoneyGram wire transfer scams between January 2004 and August 2009.

Global money services business MoneyGram International Inc. agreed to forfeit $100 million as part of an agreement with the Justice Department following a case involving approximately 25 MoneyGram agents who allegedly perpetrated scams from 2004 to 2009.

"Wire transfers are the same as sending cash, making recovery very difficult," Koster said. "Missouri consumers should exercise caution to avoid becoming a victim of a sophisticated wire scam."

Wire scams commonly employed by thieves target unsuspecting victims who are often elderly. Victims are enticed to wire money for the promise of large cash prizes, shopping discounts or employment opportunities as a "secret shopper." In another common scam, a fake story of a relative in distress seeking emergency funds is used.

Consumers who reported a MoneyGram scam during the 2004 to 2009 time period will receive a letter from the Missouri attorney general's office that will outline the process to receive a share of the forfeited funds. Victims of the scam during that time period who did not file a complaint are also potentially eligible to receive compensation.

Applications for recovery will be reviewed by the Justice Department's Victim Asset Recovery program, which will determine restitution on a case-by-case basis. Amounts for each victim will not be determined until all applications are processed.

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