A university student from Hamilton says he is struggling to make ends meet after the money his family sent to him through Western Union was claimed by someone else.
Ari Abdulmajeed Pasha, a Hamilton resident currently studying at the University of Windsor, said his aunt from Iraq sent him $6,300 through Western Union on Jan. 8 to pay for his tuition and living expenses. When he went to a Money Mart in Windsor to claim the money shortly after, he was told that someone from Scarborough had already claimed the transfer.
Since then, Pasha said he has been borrowing money and getting meals from friends to get by.
“I don't even know if words can describe it,” he told CBC News. “It's frustrating because it takes so much time and effort out of your day.”
“I'm begging the school to come give me some living allowance.... One of the ladies told me to go to the homeless shelter and eat there,” he said.
Pasha said he had since contacted Western Union and opened a fraud case. But when he called back later to check for update, he was told that there wasn't any record of his case.
“Every time I call them, it's a different story,” he said.
Western Union, Toronto police investigate
Pasha, now in his third year at the university, said his family has used Western Union to wire tuition before, but this was the first time he came across any issue.
He is convinced that Western Union agents were responsible for the missing money.
"It has to be an inside job," he said. "You can't get a tracking number that's I think nine-digit long and guess it."
Western Union is looking into Pasha's case, but the company needs time to investigate as the transaction dated back to January, spokesperson Kathy Bell told CBC News Tuesday.
Pasha's family has since filed a police report in Toronto. Insp. Jeff Henton with Toronto Police Service confirmed that they have received the case, but haven't opened it.
Once opened, the case will be investigated in the Scarborough division where the money was allegedly claimed, Henton said.
$1.5 M scam
This is not the first time Western Union's transfer practices are called into question. A recent CBC investigation uncovered a scam that exploits weaknesses in the money transfer business and has bilked Canadians out of millions of dollars.
The scammers posted bogus jobs on the internet of “mystery shoppers” to test the security of Western Union's transfer system, according to CBC's Go Public investigation. Once hired, the victims received a cheque for approximately $5,000 and were asked to deposit it into their bank accounts, then use the funds to send money via Western Union to made-up recipients.
The cheque eventually bounced. The money sent by victims were, however, picked up at other Western Union locations.
Western Union agents didn't check for IDs when the money was picked up, possibly because they were in on the scam, according to Toronto police Det. Alan Spratt who investigates scams like this.
This particular scam has cost Canadian victims $1.5 million, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Western Union told CBC's Go Public that it has many security measures to detect scams.