Philip had been corresponding online with Anna in Nigeria for around eight years after Anna contacted Philip via an email. During this time, he had helped Anna financially as she trained as a nurse.
When Anna decided she wanted to move to New Zealand to care for Philip and his daughter, Philip purchased her air tickets. Anna then asked for a ‘before travel allowance’ to be able to leave Nigeria. When Philip tried to send her the money through an international money remitter, it declined the transfer saying it was concerned that Philip might be the subject of fraud.
Philip was upset at the money remitter’s decision, and complained to FSCL.
Philip acknowledged that Nigeria is a country known for scams, but was adamant that his relationship with Anna was genuine. He had been corresponding with her for years and could not understand why the money remitter would not transfer his money as requested.
The money remitter said that Philip’s transaction had raised security concerns, but it would reconsider its decision if Philip was able to provide documents showing:
- the source of the funds, for example Philip’s bank statements
- the purpose of the funds, perhaps a letter from Nigeria’s emigration department confirming Anna needed a ‘before travel allowance’
- a relationship existed between Philip and Anna, perhaps email correspondence between Philip and Anna and the flight tickets
- that Philip had met Anna, for example, photographs.
The money remitter also asked Philip for Anna’s birth certificate and a copy of her passport.
We explained to Philip that although the money remitter provided a service, it was not obliged to transfer money for him. It seemed to us that the information requested by the money remitter was not unreasonable, and suggested Philip approach Anna again for the information.
Philip responded saying Anna was unable to provide any of the information requested. Philip said Anna did not have a birth certificate and her passport was being held by the Nigerian emigration department. Philip could not get any information confirming the ‘before travel allowance’ and, because they had never met, there were no photographs of them together.
Philip agreed that without this information there was nothing more we could do to help and withdrew his complaint.
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It seemed to us it was very likely that Anna was a fraudster who had skilfully groomed Philip over a long period of time. But even if Anna was genuine, the money remitter was entitled to query the transaction and refuse to send funds until objectively satisfied that the transaction was legitimate. As Anna was unable to provide any of the requested information, this suggested the money remitter’s suspicions were correct.