Western Union hacked with text message scam offering "free money"

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POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (WIFR) -- It’s a text message offering "free money," and if it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. A local business manager is trying to help others save their money by spreading the word.

Dave Walters, the J & D Countryside Marathon Manager in Poplar Grove, said one of his employees and multiple customers came to his business’s Western Union Outlet Thursday morning asking about this questionable text message.

The text reads, "Money arrived. Claim your $242." Walters said he called Western Union, who told him they have been hacked and they are putting security blocks out for this fraud. Western Union also told Walters once you open that link, you won't receive money, and the hackers will have access to all your information and accounts, allowing them to wipe you out.

"I like to be a good neighbor in our area here; we've got very loyal customers. There are a lot of elderly customers and sometimes they're not quite as up to par on how the web works, so if they see they’ve got free money just because, they're going to click the link and all of a sudden they've got nothing, so I just thought it was key that everybody knew," says J & D Countryside Marathon Manager, Dave Walters.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips if we receive this message: never click on a link in any unexpected e-mail without knowing or fully checking out the source, never share personal or financial data over the internet because fake links can lead to money and identity theft, and report scams to authorities and the BBB Scamtracker.

Walters advises deleting the message immediately if you receive it. He said his business's account has been hacked twice in the past couple of years from different Western Union scams, although this was the first time they had seen a message like this one.

If you get a text message like this, you can call Western Union Fraud at 1-800-448-1492 or go to BBB.org to report it.