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March 03, 2013

Fraud issue with Western Union for AdSense Publishers

Most AdSense Publishers in the Philippines would use Western Union to pick up their earnings because it’s the fastest and most convenient method. However, based on recent experience, it’s also the most un-secure and prone to fraud. Just the other day, someone claimed my AdSense earnings via Western Union and got thru.

This isn’t the first time this kind of MO happened and it isn’t an isolated case either. A number of local publishers (and bloggers) has had their Adsense revenues wiped out thru Western Union in the past.

In my case, I was out of the country (flying in from Jakarta actually) last March 1 when someone cashed out my AdSense account thru Western Union. When I dropped by today to pick it up, I got the bad news and the local branch I went to could not do anything.

My initial hunch was that it was an inside job — someone from the WU agent has access to records (specifically the MTCN). The first time I picked up my AdSense from this new branch (the old branch I usually go to for years, the one in Park Square 1, is already closed) near the house, I gave my credentials and ID (passport).

Those personal information and identification, along with access to the system for MTCN is all they need to cash out. The security flaw could be the ff:

- All WU agents have access to the MTCN. They can just do a reverse look-up (search for the name and then look for corresponding MTCN for that name).

- WU agents have network access to customer information. Anyone can pull it up and share it with an outsider to pose as the customer.

- WU agents are not very strict with regards to verification. Not sure if they have access to the soft copy of the photo ID.

These type of incidents put Western Union in a very bad light. Even if the culprit is just one of their agents, it’s still a huge security hole and will certainly reflect on customers’ trust on the service.

I’ve reported this fraud to Google’s Support and sought the help of a friend who works there. Frankly, I’m more interested to get to the bottom of this, find the lapse in security and figure out who the culprits are.


51 Responses to “Fraud issue with Western Union for AdSense Publishers”

  1. roiji says:

    may mga blog post din akong nababasa na nawithdaw yung pera nila by someone who uses fake Postal IDs…
    WU internal policy issues should be strengthened…

  2. Dexter | Techathand
    Twitter: techathand
    says:

    Western union should do something about this one. How will the people trust them if they have this kind of flaw.

  3. Hideki says:

    aww.. grabe naman yun. -___- pati si sir aED din pala. watch mode ako sa isyu na to. sana mahuli nga. damn, katakot.

  4. Zoan
    Twitter: langga_joanne
    says:

    Baka same branch kayo? Baka pwede i reklamo sa nbi yan?

  5. Juan says:

    Dapat ireport yan sa NBI para maimbestigahan. Kung sino man ung nagclaim ng earnings mo, kasalanan pa rin ng western union yan, di nila isecure ung sistema nila…

  6. Bon
    Twitter: taragismm
    says:

    uh-ohh, google might disable the WU cashout option! wag naman sana..

    • Nald says:

      Wag naman sana. Suggest ko na lang na kunin na lang agad agad kapag binigay na ang MTCN. Wag ng palampasin ang isang araw pa.

  7. kusina101
    Twitter: corbylove
    says:

    we should spread this article in all social media. this is very alarming. andami na palang kasong ganito at di man lang inaaksyunan ng WU. they should take the blame on this. dapat kasama sila sa makasuhan.

  8. aED
    Twitter: pinoyden
    says:

    Yup! We should spread this on social media para mabigyan ng aksyon at mahuli yun mga gumagawa nito.

  9. Alwell says:

    Si aED nakita nya ang form kung paano na cashout. Tama point nya paano nangyari halos magkamuha ang signature ? Kung puro online issue to dapat wala silang way para maging similiar ng signature. More or less they have seen aED signature somewhere like from the WU branch mismo o kung saan man inistore ang copy ng form pinipirmanhan natin adsense users. Hmmmm palalim ng palalim na to.

  10. yuji says:

    WU Vice President Patricia Zamora Riingen (sister of blogger Cecile Zamora Van Straten of Chuvaness) should hear this issue on WU.

  11. Loisel says:

    Sir Please Pa share kung may update. ganto din nangyari sakin. di ko nakuha agad, nung kukunin ko na nung monday march 4, sabi na paid na daw nung march 2. $15,000 po ung nakuha samin.

    Sa Aguirre Pawnshop namin huling kinuha ung payment nung January.

    Nag try kami sa NBI pero inadvice lang kami na gumawa ng letter sa Western union para makuha yung information kung sinong nag withdraw ng pera then saka daw kami mag complain. Ewan, Labo!

  12. aED
    Twitter: pinoyden
    says:

    @Loisel nagpunta rin kami sa NBI nag fill up na kami ng complaint form tapos babalik pa kami sa monday para ifollowup.

    Malabo nga ang sabi sayo ng NBI dahil hindi ka talaga bibigyan ng WU dapat talaga yun NBI ang hihingi ng info sa WU.

    I bet kaya pinapahingi sayo yung info sa western union ay para malaman nila kung sino ang kakasuhan eh ang info naman dun ay yung name mo rin so useless din yun. Yan kasi din ang sabi nila samin kasi di nila alam kung sino ang kakasuhan.

    Ang problema kasi dito mukhang hindi alam ng mga authorities kung ano ang gagawin sa case natin. Nagpunta na kami sa CIDG at NBI pero mukhang walang mangyayari. Pag wala talaga mangyayari sa case ilalapit na namin sa media.

    Email me at admin at pinoyden dot com para join forces tayo. Mas mapipilitan kasi silang gumawa ng action pag mas marami ang complaints.

  13. Mrs. Kolca
    Twitter: mrskolca
    says:

    Oh my! I just got my payment today tho available sya last week pa. Kinabahan nga ako kasi ngayon ko lang sya nakuha ng late na. Nabasa ko din yun case ni Jenny Aspacio so I know may fraud talaga sa WU. Shame on them! Di ko nakuha agad ang payment ko for some reason. Next time talaga, I will get my pay the same day!!

    Good luck sa mga mapa-file ng case against WU. Tama lang na mag-join forces kayo. Mas marami mas magand. If you guys won’t act now, I am sure these things will happen over and over again in the future!!

    • aED
      Twitter: pinoyden
      says:

      I no longer trust Western Union. I already changed my payment method to “Check – Secured Express Delivery” I don’t mind the additional processing fee and waiting time since I believe it is safer than using Western Union.

      Our payment was actually taken just 1 hour before we arrived at the Western Union location. So even if kunin mo yung payment mo the same day there is still that chance na mauunahan ka ng mga yun.

      Ito pa another interesting post to read: http://www.selaplana.com/2012/07/20/western-money-union-scam/ just scroll to the update part.

  14. RL Quito says:

    Hala, palala na ng palala nangyayari, dami na scam a iba iba modus, halos every week nlng may bagong modus…

    Better to get the money asap siguro after maissue ung MTCN number

  15. Ako mas pinili ko po yong paypal although matagal ang process pinaka safe I guess…

    Sana magkaroon ng iba pang paraan para makuha ang AdSense earning…

    Anglaki siguro ng nakuha sayo Sir Abe? :D

  16. kent
    Twitter: whatsthelatest
    says:

    Hello kuya Abe, we have the same issue and it happened on the same date too, it was picked up on March 1.

    I’ve contacted google and they have escalated an investigation. I have also called WU support and they said that it will take 21 days.

    How about yours? What’s the update with your issue? Are you able to withdraw the money? Any progress?

    God speed! Hope you’ll reply

  17. CarloBlogg Online3.0
    Twitter: carloblogg
    says:

    I am almost on the payment threshold of Google adsense, and reading this entry makes me feel worried about WU payout method. Dapat aksyunan iyan ng Western Union din mismo, kasi pangalan mismo ng WU ang sisirain nila.

    For those who are filing complaints, we support you. Pwede namang kasuhan mismo yung western union branch, iyon ipalagay nyo sa information – dapat as a branch handling money, they should exercise extraordinary diligence in handling these kind of transactions. Just like in fraud cases in bank checks where the check owner’s signature is forged, the bank is still liable for not exercising due diligence. Same with these kind of branches. There are information that are available only between the WU branch and the customer. When this info is divulged without consent or used for fraud, the branch itself may be held liable. Tsaka may pinapakitang id sa kanila diba? dpat alam nila kung pano maginspect ng mga ganung IDs. Violation of Art 19, 20, 21, and 22 of the Phil Civil Code yan; panglalamang iyan.

    Sana bigyan din ito ng media mileage with Sir Abe’s help; masakit mang aminin, pero ang authorities natin minsan di alam ang gagawin, bigla na lang malalaman ang solusyon pag nagkaroon ng “exposure’ sa media.

  18. Joseph Enmanuel
    Twitter: otep_enmanuel
    says:

    Hmm grabe naman! Baka sindikato na yan! nakakita ng opportunity sa security flaw ng WU.. bad news ito para sa mga google adsense earner at sa mismong Western Union..sana maayos!

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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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