Many may not realize that the Money Transmitter Division of the California Department of Business Oversight licenses and regulates money transmitters. Money transmitters include issuers of payment instruments (money orders), travelers checks and stored value. California's Money Transmission Act codified at Financial Code § 2000 et seq.
Western Union is among the best known money transmitters (a directory of other licensees is available here.). According to Western Union's website, the company was organized in 1851 as The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. Five years later, the company changed its name to The Western Union Telegraph Company to reflect the union of western telegraph lines. A year after the Civil War ended, the company introduced stock tickers, enabling brokers to get quotations from the New York Stock Exchange.
Recently, the DBO issued a consumer alert about the fraudulent use of Western Union's storied name. According to the DBO,
Several consumers reported receiving emails purporting to be from Western Union claiming the recipient has been approved to receive the sum of $1.5 million from a United Nations (UN) “poverty alleviation program.”The message claims the recipient will receive installment payments of $7,600 via Western Union, but only after providing the sender personal information.
A second email claims the recipient has been awarded a $600,000 prize as part of a celebration of the UN’s 161st anniversary. The fraudulent solicitation says the recipient will receive their prize only after providing personal and financial information, including bank account number and bank routing number.
There seems to be no dearth of the disreputable.