Nottinghamshire Police warn of online money laundering scams
With the cost of living crisis, Nottinghamshire Police has warned of the dangers of online schemes that promise quick and easy money.
Students, young people or those on a low incomes are often targeted by organised crimes gangs who want to use their bank accounts to launder their “dirty money”
But officers from the force’s Economic and Cyber Crime Unit are urging people not to be fooled.
“What might seem like an easy way to make some extra cash could end with a criminal record and a prison sentence,” said fraud and cyber protect officer Dale Richardson.
“If anyone you don’t know asks you to let them transfer some money into your bank account and for you to transfer it onto someone else — don’t.
“If you are contacted on any social media platform by someone saying that you can make easy money, do not engage — the banks are hot on this and will freeze your bank account, labelling you as a money mule.”
Nottinghamshire Police have dealt with a number of money mule cases in recent weeks, with 16 and17 year olds recruited via social media channels such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Money muling is often disguised as make money quick schemes or trading opportunities and involves sending money to someone and asking them to forward it onto another account, usually for a small fee.
It is also known as 'deets and squares' referring to the bank details and cards, which young people are often asked to hand over in exchange for a cut of the cash laundered through their accounts.
Once the money has been laundered, it is used in serious crimes, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation, drug smuggling and terrorist activity.
Anyone caught using their bank accounts for such crimes could face up to 14 years in prison.
In addition to a criminal record, their bank accounts will be closed, and they will be prevented from having an account for six years, making it difficult to access student loans, mortgages, take out a phone contract and affect future job prospects.
Dale said the consequences of being caught were significant.
She said: “The police will visit you and your credit score will be affected, which will make it harder for you to take out loans or a mortgage. This will also affect job opportunities where a DBS check is required.
“People might see letting someone else use their bank account as easy money but these transactions help fund organised crime and allowing your account details to be used for fraud means you could face a prison sentence.”
What to look out for:
Posts on social media offering opportunities to make money
Social media hashtags on Instagram and Snapchat such as #realmoneytransfers, #activebankaccount, #moneyflips, #PayPalflips and #easymoney should all be warnings of a money laundering scam
Adverts from unknown companies with little to no web presence, or adverts with bad spelling and grammar can be an indicator that they are not legitimate
How to protect yourself:
Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to transfer money through your personal bank account
Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they are legitimate
Never give your financial details to someone you don’t know or trust
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, it’s important to report all fraud-related incidents to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, to help build a national picture and help prevent others falling victim to scams.
You should contact Action Fraud online by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or calling them on 0300 123 20 40. Or if you have any information about a fraud or scam and wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.