Why Western Union/Moneygram?

Taken from http://www.joewein.net/419/419-western-union-money-transfer.htm

Most 419 scams / advance fee frauds by gangs from West and South Africa and many online scams run by Eastern European crime groups involve either Western Union money transfer (WU) or MoneyGram (MG). These services are the preferred method of online scammers to receive cash from their victims.

These services are quick and - more importantly in scams - the recipient essentially remains anonymous. Even though in some countries the WU agents will check picture ID when funds are picked up, the criminals don't have any problems getting hold of fake ID. Once they have picked up the cash there is no trace to who they are or where they live.

By contrast, bank accounts usually (but not always) involve some degree of address verifiction. For example, when you open a bank account the bank will usually mail the ATM card to the address given by the person who opens the account. If a fake address were used, the person would never receive the ATM card. With WU the criminal can give the sender any postal address he likes but will still receive the cash. Postal addresses have no meaning in a WU/MG transfer because the recipient walks into any agent office and picks up the funds. The money is not delivered to his home or to a bank account. Depending on the country, the recipient can pick any agent office in the nominated city or the entire country.

In a nutshell, Western Union and Moneygram allow the scammers to anonymously collect the money from any victim without fear of the transaction being traced back to them. They can even claim to be in one place and in reality be in a totally different one. Fake IDs make it highly unlikely the scammers can be traced when they receive the payments this way.

Western Union and Moneygram are perfectly legitimate services that the scammers have - once again - learned how to manipulate for their own needs.