Money goes missing

Martine’s father, Hans, regularly sent money by international money transfer to the Netherlands to support an elderly aunt. The money was to be collected by Martine’s cousin, Saskia, but Saskia called to say that when she went to the money transfer office the money had already been released to someone else.

Hans asked Martine for help. Martine complained to the money transferer who said that the money had been successfully collected. Martine did not agree and complained to FSCL.



The money transfer service said the transaction was successfully completed, but Martine believed Saskia who said she had not received the money. As far as Martine was concerned, the money transfer service was responsible for the money until it reached Saskia.



We asked the money transfer service how they could be sure the transaction was successful. The money transfer service said that the person who collected the money needed to have an eight-digit number and identification matching the name of the recipient. The money transfer service explained that the only way the agent in the Netherlands could locate the transaction is by searching for it using the eight-digit number.

The money transfer service gave us, in confidence due to commercial and privacy reasons:

  • the photograph identification collected from the person who received the money
  • the form signed by the person who collected the money
  • internal records showing the successful transaction.

We explained to Martine that, from the information that the money transfer service had provided, we were satisfied the money was successfully delivered to a person with the same name as Martine’s cousin.

Martine insisted that Saskia had not received the money but said that if she gave us her cousin’s identification, and it matched the person the money transfer service said had collected the funds, she would let the matter go.

Martine sent us Saskia’s identification, but it did not match the identification used by the person who collected the money.



We went back to Martine and explained that, although the identification she had sent to us did not match the identification given by the person who collected the money, we did not think the money transfer service was at fault. The person who collected the money gave the eight-digit transaction number and identification in the same name as the intended recipient. We did not see what more the money transfer service could have done. It was also difficult to see how the person collecting the money could have known the eight-digit transaction number unless Hans or Saskia had given the number to that person.

We acknowledged that this was not the outcome that Martine was looking for. We were sorry that Hans had lost his money, and that their faith in international money transfers had been shaken. However, it was our view that this was a matter of theft and best handled by the police in the Netherlands.

Martine did not respond, and we discontinued our investigation into the complaint.


Insights for consumers

Sometimes, despite our best endeavours, we cannot find out exactly what happened. On these occasions we will suggest alternative avenues to be explored and, if necessary, our terms of reference allow us to decline to investigate a complaint where we can see a more appropriate place to deal with a complaint.