TOMS RIVER — For more than a decade, people across the country were duped into believing they could win cash and prizes if they sent money to scammers through Western Union. Now many of those people will have a chance to get their money back.

Western Union settled an enforcement action by the Federal Trade Commission and federal prosecutors, agreeing to make $586 million available to the victims of the scam between January 2004 and January 2007.

Police in Toms River on Wednesday were spreading the word about the settlement.

"For years, many people who lost money to scams sent their payment through a Western Union wire transfer," the department said. "Scammers contacted people and promised prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront. They also pretended to be family members in need of cash or law enforcement officers demanding payment."

The FTC said victims of the scam will be reimbursed based on the amount they are verified to have sent to scammers and the number of people who submit valid claims. The money eligible for refund is only the amount that was sent through Western Union and not any fees associated with the transfer. It may take up to a year for claims to be processed and verified.

The deadline to file a claim is May 31. To learn more about the settlement go here.

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