I'm 23 and live in Vancouver with my mom and dad. (My sister lives in Toronto center, but she's with her girlfriend; she's 29).

Over the past few months (well, since March 2019) my dad's become addicted to sending money via Western Union to strangers in the US, he's constantly doing it and my mom's getting worried about our finances.

He's sending amounts like $60, $80, $5000 and has also sent lingerie and food to people (no idea how he gets the addresses). He sent a woman in Texas (think it was Houston) $30,000 via Western Union, I saw he'd saved it in a text file called "VACATION PLANS.txt" which I'd started writing (my file originally) and it said about how he'd sent the $30,000 in Texas in small amounts because he thought he could get away sending it in small amounts rather than one big go.

He's often sending large amounts via Western Union, I found he'd admitted on Instagram "I do it via pseudonyms... heh heh!" - he has an Instagram profile with pictures of himself and food on, mainly selfies or restaurant pics.

I overheard him saying on the phone to a buddy "I've got this addiction to Western Union, I got into it from what I read on hackforums.net and now I NEED to keep doing it to feel good."

I'm worried about the financial situation as my dad keeps doing this.

He even used my Instagram account and sent DMs to people asking them to send him money via WU. How the hell did he get my password and why would he want to use my instagram for Western Union stuff?

My Instagram isn't NSFW... it's quite safe really.

I need some help from everyone here, things are worrying me at the moment and my mom doesn't know what to do at all.

It seems like every hour of the day he's looking at websites about WU or phoning up buddies to try and get them to send money via it.

I don't understand the Western Union addiction and want some help from you on here.

  • This is a personal problem, not a financial one (the symptom is financial). This is more your mom's problem than yours - what does she say? If she's not willing to do anything about it (make him recognize that it's a problem, or move the money somewhere he can't get to it) I don't see what you can do with no legal access.
    – D Stanley
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 18:06
  • 3
    I've never heard of this type of addiction before. If your question is about how to deal with your parents about this, I would suggest the Interpersonal Skills site. If your question is about understanding this addiction on a theoretical basis, try Psychology & Neuroscience. We could answer questions here about how sending money with Western Union works or about the mechanism behind specific scams, but I don't think that is what you are really concerned about.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 18:07
  • 2
    Some reading for you: google.com/search?q=compulsive+giving
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 18:16
  • Are you sure he overwrote your file by mistake? Are you sure he didn't know you were close enough when you overheard him talking? Isn't it possible he is just pretending to send money via WU? If your mother can see that the money was withdrawn from the account he might be trying to hide the real reason why the money was spent.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 18:28
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about an interpersonal relationship issue that is only tangentially related to finance.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 21:02

2 Answers 2


With regard to protecting your Instagram account, enable two-factor authentication on the account for that extra layer of security. Use a third-party authentication app like Authy to generate the two-factor auth code on the phone.


Enable this extra layer of security on your other important online accounts while you're at it, you can find out which services offer it here https://twofactorauth.org


I'd recommend your mother to take a lawyer, get him declared as mentally incompetent, and take control over his assets. Just telling him that she is going to take a lawyer to have him declared as mentally incompetent might do the trick.

  • This sounds like a very high risk option. With the possibility that the OP could end up having to look for somewhere else to live.
    – Simon B
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 20:35

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