Expatriates remit money to their home countries at UAE Exchange branch in Sharjah. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Helping a stranger by sending him/her money under your name through a money exchange could lock you out from your account.

This is exactly what a Dubai expat had to go through after transferring money to her friend’s friend as a favour, unaware of the hassle that would later follow.

Armenian expat Donara Sanamyan headed to an international exchange branch one morning to complete a regular money transfer to her mother in Armenia through money transfer company, MoneyGram, only to be told that her transfer has been rejected by the system.

When she was asked to try again after a few days, her transaction was declined again. It later appeared to be protecting her from a suspected fraud.

“I have been using MoneyGram for 15 years — ever since I started working in the UAE — to send money to my elderly, widowed mother living in Armenia. On May 23, when I tried sending her money, I was declined from transferring, with the money exchange staff telling me that an error code kept appearing,” Sanamyan, 36, told Gulf News.

Sanamyan said MoneyGram has been the only accessible service for her mother, who is ill and relies on the money she sends her to pay for her treatment. She added that she never faced any issue with the service until she once tried sending money to her friend’s friend, which had also been rejected.

“My friend, who was in Dubai for a visit, was trying to send her friend in Armenia money through the same service, but it was not going through. She asked me to do it for her under my name, and I did it as a favour,” said Sanamyan, who works as a marketing manager.

For one whole month, Sanamyan struggled to understand why she had been blocked from sending money back home and was worried about not being able to support her mother. “I tried contacting MoneyGram through their hotline several times but they did not tell me the exact reason, but I believe the woman I sent the money was possibly involved in something.”

Following a query made by Gulf News, MoneyGram said they have restored Sanamyan’s account and that she would be able to transact with them again. Despite not giving details about the case in order to protect customer’s privacy, they, however, warned customers from sending money to people they don’t personally know.

“At MoneyGram, protecting our customers from fraud is our top priority. That’s why we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance our compliance systems and help detect possible illegal activity. At times, a consumer may be blocked from transacting to protect him or her from suspected fraud,” MoneyGram said in a statement.

“We are pleased to let you know that the customer in question can now transact with us again. MoneyGram remains committed to providing safe and reliable money transfers for all of our customers, and we will continue to enhance our compliance processes and programmes to ensure they are protected. We also want to remind all consumers that the most important thing they can do to protect themselves when transferring money is to only send money to people they personally know.”

“I was in a lot of fear this whole period. I could have got myself in a lot of trouble and inconvenience. I’m extremely happy they considered my case as I have been their customer for many years and I have always had a good record.”