Is Moneygram dropping the banhammer?

Last year, Walmart instituted new requirements and restrictions on money order purchases (See: Walmart’s new Money Order limits: new speed limit enforced [likely nationwide]). Specifically, Walmart’s system is now hard-coded to require an ID entry if you purchase more than $1,000 in money orders in a single transaction and there is a hard limit of $8K in money order purchases per 24 hours (which is tracked by your ID). In the last few days, some Flyertalk members have reported being rejected by the payment system after entering their ID information despite not having exceeded the limits. Is Moneygram banning those who buy “too many” money orders, and if yes how many is too many? It’s too early to know for sure, but it’s worth being aware and considering your volume.

Image courtesy of ToolsAreHome

The reports

The first report I’ve seen of such a shutdown came from Flyertalk user Shawnee, who posted to say:

Anyone saw a message on CSR screen that says something like “Tell the customer politely that the money orders can not be processed. Do not discuss details”? after entering the DL?
Looks like I got shut down by MG.
Not sure if it is a permanent or if there is a way to get back in.
Buying MOs $2k to $8K per day , 3-5 times a week for the last 4-5 months at 4-6 different walmarts altogether giving my DL.

It’s worth noting that not all Walmart locations follow the same policy with regard to money order purchases: while some people will say that it is impossible to buy a money order at all with a gift card debit card in their area, it is easy to do in other areas. I often check out the local scene when I travel and the experience is certainly mixed (even between stores within a few miles of each other).

The above datapoint might indicate someone exceeding the purchase limit within a single day. However, that user followed up a few days later to say that both they and their significant other (same address) were unable to buy money orders in excess of $1K with their IDs even after waiting a few days and even at stores they had not previously visited (the system is rejecting them after entering ID information).

Furthermore, user downluda chimed in with this:

i got the same message today. i was only doing 2k a day, 3x a week for the past 1-2 months tops. no clue what triggered it, especially since my volume was relatively light. i never did more than 2k in a day.

Several other users have responded with the same experience.

Quick Analysis

One thing I find odd is that most of the reports come from people reporting fairly low volume (only the original poster reports purchase patterns in the neighborhood of the $8K/day limit, with most reporting $2K a couple of times a week). I would think that if this were a widespread effort to snuff out MSers / suspected money launderers, we would likely see more widespread shut down reports from people doing more consistent volume. In short, I think it’s too early to know what a ban looks like or exactly what might trigger it or if this is some kind of glitch.

That said, when Walmart began requiring an ID for money order purchases over $1K, I personally stopped exceeding that limit. That’s obviously cut my speed in half, but I was suspicious of the ID collection from the get-go, figuring that this would make it all too easy for Walmart / Moneygram to ban folks whose patterns they didn’t like.

Whether or not any of this is relevant to you will depend on your area and purchase habits, but I thought there were enough data points to make it worth a quick warning that it might be worth slowing down a bit if you’ve been entering ID at Walmart. Read more in this Flyertalk thread.

Last updated on June 10th, 2019

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Matthew
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Matthew

I don’t see how worrying about ID requirements has anything to do with this possible shutdown. If these people still want money orders, just go below $1000 like you’ve already been doing since the limits started. I personally don’t like WalMart’s at all so I will continue doing $2k, but I only do it for a sign up bonus or the occasional retention offer.

Given the DPs are limited, I’m guessing there might be more hidden below the surface. Maybe their address or ID was flagged for another reason? Even 3 times a week is a bit suspicious. My thought is some people need money orders for specific purposes. Maybe for paying rent, etc. Going three times a week for the last couple of months will still look odd even if it’s not the maximum every day.

Also they could be reviewing how these money orders are being cashed. If something looks odd on that end too, they might be blocked.

I’m sure Western Union and Money Gram see all sorts of scams and crimes with money. We might get caught up in their efforts to keep their business as legitimate as possible.

Mitch Cumstein
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Mitch Cumstein

I agree Matthew. Live and let live.

Ed. C
Guest
Ed. C

I stopped going to WMT because it was too much hassle and could never get the Mastercard gift/debit cards to work even following all the tips/workarounds. A local competitor in my area with multiple locations has Western Union MO’s that are easily purchased with Mastercards and I can use my banks mobile app to deposit them – something I couldn’t do with Moneygram. Plus, they are only 79¢! $1,000 limit though.

craig
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craig

I would love to know what your local competitor is as I also have a huge hassle at my local walmarts and since i just try and do a few a month when in another area I would love to find another place to get money orders.

Ed. C
Guest
Ed. C

@craig It’s a regional grocery store chain that sells Western Union MO’s..You might try out grocery stores that sell them. Also, I live in an area that has a large immigrant population and using/buying MO’s is part of their culture. Might account for the ease of buying them.

Tariq
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Tariq

Hi Ed,

The limit for MO is $1,000 for the US. So that’s not a merchant constraint;however, rather a US thing.

IvanY
Guest
IvanY

I have also hit the limits but I have made a few fake ids which work perfectly an $40 a pop. The things that we do for an extra dollar

Frank
Guest
Frank

IvanY, … things that YOU do.

Der
Guest
Der

Can u IM me where to get a *fakeid for 40bucks, lol

David
Guest
David

Check your state laws. In most states, the mere possession of a fake ID is a misdemeanor. In other states, it is a felony. Just hope that the store doesn’t get suspicious and call the cops. Have a defense attorney on retainer.

voyager
Guest
voyager

@IvanY um no thanks, I believe in what’s called a “slippery slope”

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

Are there actually places where you can regularly buy thousands of dollars of money orders every day? From my experience, buying $1000 a week makes you “suspicious”

John
Guest
John

Yes apparently lots of flyover country. But not anything near a major city like dc, nyc, sf, la.

Ed. C
Guest
Ed. C

Whenever Staples / Office Depot have their VISA or Mastercard gift cards on sale/fee free I go every day and buy $1,000 worth (if $200’s are available) and go straight to a grocery store that sells Western Union MO’s and convert them. Never been questioned. Yesterday at Staples, the cashier commented that one of his other “regulars” was just there before me…..

Mimi
Guest
Mimi

IF reports are true, a female blogger in NorCal says her WM allows her to do $8K of MOs in 4 separate transactions to accommodate her 4 swipes per transaction. It is clearly against the memo sent to all WMs back in Oct 2018 where it says the $8K maximum amount has to be sold in ONE transaction, but it’s possible that there are stores that either defy/ignore corporate memos.

OTOH, if the memo allows $8K per day per SSN, why do they become suspicious of people who choose to buy the maximum amount? Why not just lower the limit to $1K on a rolling 24 hrs and don’t ban people if they choose to buy everyday UNLESS there is a clear policy of $1K per SSN per WEEK or per MONTH? All these corporate policies don’t mean a thing though, if random store management are allowed to make their own rules.

M2C.

I Can See For Miles
Guest
I Can See For Miles

Point of clarification: As I recall, the memo to which Mimi is referring states “should be sold” in one transaction, not “must be sold” in one transaction. I would argue that grants discretion to each store.

Mimi
Guest
Mimi

I saw this copy of MoneyGram MO procedures from this article online where I based that buying the max limit of $8K must be sold in one transaction instead of breaking it down to 4 transactions of $2K each with 4 swipes.

http://millionmileguy.com/negative-changes-coming-to-walmart-soon/

Under key points, it says that when multiple MOs are purchased, the associate must process all MOs in a single transaction. It also states that no more than 4 pin based DC can be used in a single transaction that’s why many MSers are unable to buy the maximum amount since they can only swipe four $500 VGCs, if limited to a single transaction. I understand that it was not a suggestion but a direct order coming from MG that WM has to comply.

I’ve come to accept that YMMV rules when it comes to MS.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Worked at a bank, unusual money order deposits are reported to the feds even if under the 10k/3k limits. Just so you know.

Ed. C
Guest
Ed. C

I would imagine “unusual” would be subjective and region/bank dependent.

This is not a new “activity”. Churners have been doing it for years.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Oh not the FBI is gonna come get us!!!

THEsocalledfan
Guest
THEsocalledfan

Nick and Greg,

copying my post on flyertalk to help contribute:

Okay, couple points here:

1. If you are keeping you purchases under $1000, DON’T post it is BAU. We know that; that is not the issue.
2. Second, let’s keep the “I told you so” stuff to a minimum. While it is true this could put some in a tricky spot, many have racked up millions of miles/points with variations of these techniques….
3. Let keep focused on if this is “real” or not. If it happened to you, please post, tell exactly what happened and what your typical patterns are, velocity, etc.

For myself, I ran about $36K through early in the month. My last Wally trip was 4/20/19 and I typically liquidate about $2K a time, but sometimes more if they let me. Not banned yet, but have not tried since 4/20 to buy over $1K. (I’ve been knocking out $800 all week thanks to an office supply store…..)