What’s the scam?
Financial Fraud Action UK, an organisation which tackles fraud on behalf of banks, claims that approximately 15% of British adults receive scam job offers which turn participants into money launderers (or “money mules”) for criminal gangs.
Victims receive an email offering opportunities for jobs such as "payment processing agents" or "administration assistants". The emails often look legitimate often masquerading as a bona fide business complete with stolen logo. Those who fall for the scam are asked to accept money into their bank account before transferring onto another account, often overseas, while keeping a small percentage fee for themselves, typically 8%.
Victims could end up in prison
But in reality the transferred money is a product of fraud on other accounts by criminal gangs, who in turn use your account to launder the money. Those who accept the ‘job’ and unwittingly become money mules face having their account frozen and up to 10 years in prison, such is the seriousness of the crime.
Students and the unemployed are being targeted
But worrying the scammers are deliberately targeting those on low-incomes such as students and job seekers. While most recipients will have been hit through mass spam mail outs others have been targeted as a result of CVs posted online. And this technique seems to be working. Financial Fraud Action (FFA) research of over 2,000 adults found that around 15% had received the suspect job offers. But while 6% of those overall who had been approached accepted the offers this figure rose to 13% for the unemployed and 19% for students. FFA believes that up to 380,000 people could have been unwitting money mules.
What to do if you receive an email
Simply delete the email. But if you have engaged with the scammers and received money into your account then you should contact the police. Finally, if you know of anyone in the targeted groups perhaps forward this article to them. Crimestoppers is running a campaign at universities across the country warning students about the scam.